What do fine art, poetry and ranch rodeo have in common? Stuck? Don't feel bad. I couldn't draw a parallel either. However, after chatting with Kathleen Collins, rodeo coordinator extraordinaire, the answer became more obvious to a city slicker like me.
"A lot of people are not aware of how much art is involved in a cowboy's life," says Collins. "There is a big appreciation for Western aesthetics."
Western-themed art can be found everywhere at Ride for the Brand Ranch Rodeo. However, this is just one of the reasons it differs from other rodeos that stampede through Colorado Springs.
Ranch rodeo offers something unique: a glimpse into the life of a real, working cowboy. And this life is much more complex than bucking broncos and rodeo clowns. Just ask Waddie Mitchell, cowboy poet and Ride for the Brand's host.
Mitchell's soft-spoken drawl is the first thing audiences hear at Ride for the Brand. He establishes the mood with a poem or narrative centered on cowboy life before moving on to event commentary. Mitchell's rapport with the audience gives the rodeo an intimate, authentic quality not easily achieved in an industry that is rapidly becoming more technologically savvy.
"Nowadays, it is very popular to have jumbo screens that broadcast what is happening down in the arena," says Collins. "In ranch rodeo, there are no screens."
Keeping Ride for the Brand authentic is the only way to achieve its founders' mission. The rodeo features 100 working cowboys competing in a traditional ranch rodeo style. Events include wild-cow milking, ranch bronc riding, trailer loading, double mugging, and sorting and branding.
Ride for the Brand Ranch Rodeo
Norris-Penrose Event Center,
1045 W. Rio Grande St.
Friday, July 6: Longhorn cattle drive down Tejon Street, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Songs of the Cowboys at Smokebrush Foundation's Chapel of Art, 5-8 p.m.; Saturday, July 7, rodeo, 6 p.m., and Flash Cadillac concert, 9 p.m.