Located right along the main drag in Town Park, it’s hard to miss Snowmass’s big Wednesday night to do – the Rodeo. A 40+-year tradition that runs throughout the duration of summer, everyone puts on his or her finest boots, denim, and 10-gallon hats for a roping, raucous good time.

The pre-rodeo festivities begin with a BBQ and activities for the kids that include a petting zoo (the goats are so friendly they already have their heads through the fence waiting for you), roping practice, a mechanical bull, and the Sweets Shack dishing out cotton candy. Grab some grub and a drink or two (yes, there’s a full bar) and make friends in the dinner tent as you chow down on ribs and pulled pork while being serenaded by a roaming musician playing country favorites like “Hey Good Lookin’” to the littlest cowgirls. If you forgot your spurs or boots, you can pick up some new accessories at the Trading Post, and you’ll need them because everyone gets in on the action.

First up were the community events. Barrel racing was essentially a speed competition based on time and accuracy. A whole lot of local cowboys came out (28 in fact!) to try their skills at team roping next, and in pairs of two, one had to hook the horns, and the other had to hook the heels of their bull as the horn sounded. Points are deducted for catching only one of the legs or incorrect form. Even if you’re a rodeo newbie like my city-girl self, the announcers fully explain the rules of each game and make it easy to follow along.

Then it was time for the pros to show off: bareback style.

Stay up for 8 seconds as a bucking bronco does it’s best to toss you like a rag doll. A DJ sets the mood, timing each ride to songs that you can’t help but chuckle and sing along to like, “That’s the Way I Like It” and “ “Had a Bad Day,” depending on how each of the riders are doing. 

The kids got in on the fun with highly entertaining mutton bustin’ sheep rides and the calf scramble, essentially a giant game of flag football when the youngsters are trying to grab markers off one of the herd members. It was sheer mayhem as all the youth in the tri-state area descended on the ring for the competition and laughs.

While the cowboys and cowgirls put on a good show, by far the highlight of the night for me was chicken bingo. Having traveled quite extensively, I can honestly say this is one of the quirkiest, most unique things I’ve ever encountered on the road. If you’re into casual Vegas-style gambling, you can put $2 or $5 on a numbered square. Once all the numbers are chosen, food is dropped into the cage and the chickens go crazy for their super-sized dinner, pecking away at the feed. People heckle the chickens as a rowdy crowd tries to scare the sh*t out of them – literally, and a winner is chosen by whatever number happens to receive the first lucky #2. All in good fun, mass confusion erupted when a loose feather looked suspiciously like a piece of poop and the official judges had to rule it out. While I didn’t walk away with the prize money, I definitely took home memories that will last a lifetime.

If you’re not ready to call it a night just yet, the fire pit roars long into the evening with s’mores and songs, ensuring a fantastic Snowmass night under the lights.

Sponsored by Snowmass Tourism