For its 70th anniversary, the Rodeo de Santa Fe decided to go back to its roots.
One of the oldest — and one of the top — rodeos in the country will ring in its 70th year by doing what it usually does: bringing some of the best cowboys and cowgirls to the Santa Fe Rodeo Grounds.
It all kicks off Wednesday, and Rodeo de Santa Fe President Jim Butler said the Rodeo de Santa Fe Inc. committee wanted to honor its history.
So, it will honor its past rodeo queens with a Rodeo Royalty Reunion luncheon Friday.
“We tried to find all the rodeo queens that the rodeo had since the beginning,” Butler said. “We’re hoping for a huge turnout with that. I’ve talked with a few of them who are going to be there. I’m thinking it is going to be a really nice addition to Friday night’s festivities.”
Butler said the idea of making a big extravaganza for the 70th anniversary sounded enticing on paper, but the execution proved challenging.
Besides, he feels the best product the rodeo has to sell are the competitors. Last year, about 500 participants passed through Santa Fe for the four day-event, and Butler said the committee has already received 400 entries for this year.
“It’s such a huge product to begin with, and we’re such a small committee, it gets a little overwhelming,” Butler said. “We were just going to honor the 70th year by making it one of our best and go from there.”
One area that Butler has focused on over the past several years is bringing in national and international events or acts. Last year, world-renowned charro (or Mexican cowboy) Tomás Garcilazo came to Santa Fe, and he dazzled the crowd with his highly developed horsemanship and roping. The year before that, the Rodeo Clown Reunion took to the arena, as a collection of about 40 hall-of-fame and venerated performers from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s put on their specialty acts before the crowds.
This year, 24-year-old trick rider Haley Ganzel of Oklahoma brings her Roman-style riding in which she rides with each leg on a separate horse. She also performs the “Cossack death drag,” where she hangs off the saddle, dragging a hand on the ground.
This year’s barrelman will be Justin Rumford, who the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association honored as the “Clown of the Year” six consecutive times from 2012-17.
The Rodeo de Santa Fe will continue a new tradition it started in 2017 with its “Kids Exceptional Rodeo,” an event aimed at the special-needs community that gives participants a chance to experience what it’s like to rope a calf, race around barrels and poles on a horse, or ride a bucking bull or bronco.
Note: Butler said any former Rodeo de Santa Fe queens interested in coming to the reunion luncheon can contact Fiona Jolly at 505-699-1527 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
70th Rodeo de Santa Fe
When: Wednesday-Saturday. Gates open at 5 p.m.
Mutton bustin’ competition: 6:30 p.m. each day
Grand entry: 7 p.m. each day
Where: Santa Fe Rodeo Grounds
Tickets: General admission — Adults, $17; children under 10/adults 65 and older, $10.
Grandstand/chute arena — $22
Reserved chairbacks — $27
Box seats — $37 or four for $148