Among summer’s time-honored traditions around these parts; the heat, the afternoon thunderstorms and, of course, the Rodeo de Santa Fe.
Traditionally held the week after Father’s Day every June, the rodeo took a hiatus in 2020 due to the coronavirus. This week it announced that it will be coming back this year — just not when everyone is used to having it.
The 2021 Rodeo de Santa Fe will run from Sept. 15-18, the same time as the New Mexico State Fair Rodeo in Albuquerque.
The State Fair runs Sept. 10-19.
Both bring back all the familiar events and entertainment spectators have enjoyed for generations. Part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s regional Turquoise Circuit, the Rodeo de Santa Fe will offer a purse of $35,000 over its four days.
It generally draws competitors from all around the Western United States, including the top cowboys and cowgirls from New Mexico and bordering states.
Founded in in 1949, the rodeo joined the PRCA the following year and has grown in small ways ever since, battling everything from years of undulating attendance to the unpredictable weather.
Spokeswoman Stephanie Miller said one of the reasons the Rodeo de Santa Fe’s organizers wanted to push the event back was the desire to not rush through a hastily structured event.
It wasn’t until just recently that mass public gatherings began to return to the city. Just two weeks ago, the local chapter of Porsche enthusiasts held the Fiesta New Mexico in Santa Fe, making it the first large-scale public event in town since the start of the pandemic 15 months ago.
Organizers for that event didn’t get approval from the city until just two weeks before it began.
“That’s another reason we waited,” Miller said. “We wanted to be sure we didn’t have to play that game and, who knows, maybe we might have to play that game.”
Miller said that the rodeo grounds aren’t exactly quiet this summer. Every Wednesday night, it offers barrel racing free to spectators. Competitions run weekly through July 28.
The rodeo committee is also planning its annual Queen’s Contest on Aug. 14 to determine the royalty for this year’s event.
“There are definitely things going on,” Miller said. “But things are getting busy.”
The events on September’s schedule include the familiar competitions for bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing. The list will also include the fan-favorite mutton busting competition that challenges little kids to ride around for a few seconds on sheep.