MONTE VISTA — The 99th Ski-Hi Stampede is in the books after missing a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Stampede saw large crowds during the three-day celebration.
Thursday’s concert headlined by country music star Scotty McCreery started off the Stampede and marked the first use of the new events center at Ski Hi Park. The Rotary Club of Monte Vista’s Chuckwagon dinner was held inside the nearly completed building Thursday before the concert as were the nightly dances following the concert and rodeo action.
Ned LeDoux opened for McCreery. Both entertainers performed for more than hour each in front of a packed house.
LeDoux played original songs and some that his father, Chris, made famous. McCreery wowed the crowd with some songs off his new album that was released Thursday, July 22.
After the concert ended, the first night of dancing began. People danced the night away to the music of Shotgun Jefferson.
Typically, the Stampede has a parade on both Friday and Saturday, but this year the parade with the theme “On the Road Again” was limited to Saturday morning only.
People from all over the Valley lined the streets of Monte Vista to observe this historic parade Saturday morning led by grand marshals Harold and Norma Valdez. The couple are both natives of the San Luis Valley and long-time owners of V & V True Value Hardware in downtown Monte Vista. For the past 28 years, the local store has been a consistent sponsor of the Ski-Hi Stampede as well as assisting high school organizations to raise money with rodeo season cookouts.
This year’s carnival provided lots of thrill and fun with a full slate of attractions. The carnival started Wednesday with a canned food drive for the Monte Vista Food Bank and concluded Sunday evening.
Of course, there were also three days of the famous Ski-Hi Stampede rodeo. Andy Seiler, a nationally recognized rodeo announcer, kept crowds informed and entertained during the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA)-sanctioned event that awarded $35,700 in cash and prizes. Rodeo clown Gizmo McCracken provided playful banter with Seiler during the rodeo.
Hall of Fame cowboy John Payne, the One Armed Bandit, delighted the crowd with nationally acclaimed act featuring two mustangs and a zebra.
La Junta’s Ryan Belew, 32, won tie-down roping with a time of 9.3 seconds and earned $1,388. It was his second time finishing in the money — top six — in a 2021 PRCA event. Belew placed sixth at the Rooftop Rodeo in Estes Park. He’s competed in more than 25 rodeos, mostly in Colorado, this year.
Justin Simon, 33, of Florence, Ariz., won steer wrestling with a time of 3.9 seconds and walked away with All-Around honors and $1,388. It was his third PRCA win of the year. He also competed in team roping but did not make the top six.
The three-days of rodeo finished in dramatic fashion Sunday afternoon. Trey Kimzey was the last bull rider and competitor of the rodeo. The 22-year-old from Strong City, Okla., was the only bull rider of the rodeo to go the full 8 seconds. His 77-point ride on Ranger Walker earned him $1,195 and was his second PRCA win of 2021. He’s currently 21stin the PRCA world standings with earnings of $33,804. He was 15thin the world in 2019 and qualified for the National Finals Rodeo.
In other action, Jake Brown of Cleveland, Texas, scored 87 points to win bareback riding; Brody Wells of Powell, Wyo., took saddle bronc with an 83-point ride; Rusty Helgerson and Tanner Bryson and Cash Duty and Matt Schieck tied to win team roping with 5.4-second runs; Josey Schnaufer of Pueblo won barrel racing with a time of 17.50 seconds.
In addition to the PRCA events, there were three amateur events for local competitors — barrel racing, team roping and tie-down roping — and mutton busting for children ages 5-7. Only residents of the San Luis Valley could participate in the amateur events. Adult winners earned cash prizes and handcrafted saddles.
Bailey Danylo won barrel racing with an 18.73-second ride and teamed with heeler Taten Koenig to win team roping with an 8.8-second run. Grant Koenig won tie-down roping with a time of 13.9 seconds. Mutton busting winner Asher Ruybel received a trophy on Sunday.
The Ski-Hi Stampede rodeo is the oldest rodeo in the state of Colorado. It dates back to 1919 when the first Ski-Hi Stampede was held in August.
Stampede Parade Results
1 — Colton’s heroes
2 — 4-H
3 — Sargent Aviation
Honorable mention Monte Vista Headstsrt
1 — Garcia family
2 — Tractor Club
3 — Troy Roger's
1 — Polished Edge
2 — MV Coop
3 — Back the Blue
Stampede Rodeo Results
• Bull riding: 1. Trey Kimzey, 77 points on Stace Smith Pro Rodeos' Ranger Walker, $3,622; no other qualified rides.