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Meet the Rodeo Committee: Mile High Rodeo Association
story by Lily Weinacht
The pinnacle of the CPRA rodeo season has a new home this September 17 and 18 when the association holds its 41st finals rodeo in the National Western Complex Event Center in Denver. Previously held in Grand Junction, Colo., the finals are hosted by the Mile High Rodeo Association, whose committee is made up of more than 20 individuals, equal parts passion for bringing an event to fruition and determination to preserve the western way of life.
Their energy found a channel six years ago when the rodeo enthusiasts among them reignited the Jefferson County Fair and Rodeo. Sherie Wren – a lifelong volunteer in her community with years of experience in hotel management and Jaycees – joined the committee during that time. She’s now serving her second year as the Mile High Rodeo president. “We organized the fair for six years, non-profit and all volunteer,” she explains. “The county took notice and wanted to make it more of a county sponsored event with the Jeffco Fair and Festival, which was really good timing. Our committee was looking for a challenge when the CPRA invited us in November to produce the finals this year. We hit the ground running in January and had a couple of planning meetings with the CPRA. It’s a good partnership – they focus on the contestants and stock contractors and everything it takes to produce the actual rodeo, while we focus on things like sponsorships, vendors, and media relations. We’re very excited to work with the CPRA. Don Scanga the president and Tarah Leigh Lewis the secretary are really good at keeping on point.”
Sherie herself is the liaison between the CPRA and Mile High Rodeo and focuses on marketing and media, while Luke Hodge, the vice-president and a member of the Evergreen Rodeo Committee, also serves as arena director, Shirley Hodge as treasurer, and Rhonda Lackey as secretary. “That’s our core board, and we have at least twenty more people showing up to help behind the chutes or behind the scenes of the rodeo in general. After we made our bid for the finals, we came up with a new name, the Mile High Rodeo Association. We’ve been producing rodeo in the county for over six years and we have the experience and connections in takes to make our rodeos very successful. We’re passionate about preserving and being a part of the western way of life – not just rodeo itself, but everything it stands for.”
The National Western Complex was Mile High Rodeo’s first choice of venue, not only for the stable conditions of an indoor arena, but its proximity to a number of CPRA members in the Denver metro area. “We wanted a hometown venue, and we really want to focus on the Denver area and celebrating Colorado,” says Sherie. The Saturday afternoon performance will honor military and veterans, and the evening performance is dedicated to Donate Life Colorado, spreading awareness on how organ, eye, and tissue donation saves lives. The Sunday performance is dedicated to all Colorado sports, while they are honored to have the Denver Police Mounted Color Guard presenting the colors the entire weekend. “We’re focused on having three really great rodeo performances. Since we have ten events with the top 12 from each competing, we’ll see how the timing goes this year, then focus more on the production and adding more acts in the future. We’re very excited to have KYGO as our media partner, and we’re working to be more contestant friendly with a hospitality area. For our fans, our rodeo royalty is giving Behind the Chutes tours so they get a closer look at the livestock and what happens behind the scenes of rodeo.
“We want to make this a CPRA finals the contestants and fans haven’t seen in the past, and this is a critical year to make sure we have a foundation to stand on,” Sherie finishes. “Our whole goal is for this to be the new home of the CPRA finals for many years.”
Tickets for the 2016 CPRA Finals Rodeo are available online at milehighrodeo.com, $13 in advance and $15 at the door, with free admission for children five and under.