Where the Road Ends … And the West Begins: July 5-8 in Ellicottville
The July 4th weekend brings many traditional activities to the local table annually. Among the family picnics and fireworks displays, those celebrating the long weekend are looking for one thing … a good time. For cowboys and cowgirls across the nation, July 4th represents more than just a good time; it offers them a chance to earn their share of a rather large prize purse right here in Western New York.
A tradition in Ellicottville running 24 years strong, the Ellicottville Championship Rodeo will take place July 5-8, and will feature 350+ rodeo athletes over four days of competition and true family entertainment. For those not familiar, the Ellicottville Championship Rodeo is respectively one of the biggest of its kind in the Northeast. Sanctioned by the IPRA and APRA, cowboys come from near and far to our ski community to take part in some of the best events in the game. Show up at the rodeo grounds, and you're likely to see license plates from all over: Texas, Wyoming, California, Florida, and even Western Canada make the trek to this high quality event for a crack at some of the most generous prizing out there.
We were lucky to catch up with John Kent, who with his wife Karen, are pressing full speed ahead in preparing for this year’s showdown. John took a few moments from his bleacher painting and repair to reveal to us why his event is so successful.
BEHIND THE SCENES
The rodeo isn’t just an event for John and Karen; it's truly a labor of love. They painstakingly manage every aspect of their event - from the aforementioned pre-season maintenance, to the hands-on marketing approach they've taken this year. They have spent much of the spring promoting the rodeo by hitting the pavement (literally) taking antique tractors bearing ECR signage to metro locations throughout New York and Pa. to get the word out. John reveals it makes him “truly grateful” to receive respect and recognition from folks who turn out at these events, who recognize and appreciate their hard work. He says it also extends into the rodeo industry as well, with many outside vendors, participants, cowboys, and clown crews approaching him to be a part of his show. Needless to say, he never has trouble finding help, or filling a field of riders. John also expresses a huge amount of gratitude to the many sponsors of his rodeo, including main sponsor Gowanda Harley-Davidson for their continued support of the event.
WELCOME TO THE SHOW
While John says much of the traditional rodeo action is consistent with years past, this year boasts a few new activities, like trick and fancy riding, as well as roman riding. When I asked John what these events were all about, he chuckled and said, “Well, in a nutshell, pretty ladies riding a horse (or possibly standing, bridging two horses) doing things you wouldn't believe.” After a quick tour of YouTube, I can concur: the act is pretty amazing and not to be missed.
John is also welcoming a wildly popular clown crew to Ellicottville for the first time, led by none other than Dusty Meyers, who will certainly entertain fans while ensuring the safety of the athletes on-site.
The main event will revolve around seven standard rodeo competitions, including Bare Back Bronco Riding, Saddle Bronco Riding, Calf Roping, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Women’s Barrel Racing, and everyone’s favorite, Bull Riding. The young guns will also have their chance in the spotlight, with Junior Bull Riding and a fun stick horse race for the kiddies.
To summarize: mix in a ton of rodeo action, plenty of entertainment, a midway for the kids, top notch chicken barbeque (wash it down with a cold brew), a vendors market, plus many surprises throughout the weekend, and your decision is made. With tickets starting at just $9 for kids and $17 for adults (tickets available at the gate; kids 5 and under are free), your only option is to ride on over to the Ellicottville Championship Rodeo for some of the best valued entertainment around. Dates: July 5-8. Location: Sommerville Valley Road, Ellicottville, NY. Show times: Thursday, Friday and Saturday @ 7pm; Sunday @ 2pm. Need more info? Click on through to EllicottvilleRodeo.com.