By Caitlin Croft

The Ellicottville Championship Rodeo returns July 2-5 for its 27th year of great family fun, hosted as always by founders and avid rodeo lovers John and Karen Kent.

Over its long history, the rodeo has grown and attracted contestants from around the world and is now one of the largest International Professional Rodeo Association/American Professional Rodeo Association-sanctioned rodeos in the northeast.

Some 450 professional riders from all over the world who make their living riding rodeo will be in Ellicottville to compete for prize money made up of funds from all of the contestants’ entry fees and added money from the Ellicottville Rodeo.

There will be more than 150 head of stock for the event, and Ellicottville Championship Rodeo provides all of the feed and hay for the competition. The stock is world-class rodeo stock, which is instrumental to having the best bucking, fastest horses and bulls.

The rodeo is divided into two categories: Rough-Stock (or Riding Events) and Timed Events.

Riding events include Bareback Bronc Riding, Saddle Bronc Riding and Bull Riding. Contestants receive a score from each of the two professional rodeo judges. These scores are based on riding style, control and ability to make the eight-second whistle. Each judge awards the rider from 1-50 points on how well they ride.  Judges also score the horses or bulls on the same point scale based on how well the animal bucks.

Timed events include Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Cowgirl’s Barrel Racing and Calf Roping. Contestants try to complete the event the fastest without receiving time penalties for breaking any rules. Other events include Junior Bull Riding, Cowgirl’s Breakaway Roping and the always popular Stick Horse Races for kids 10 and younger. Plus, a rodeo clown will provide zany entertainment between the events.

The rodeo attracts thousands of visitors from all over the country to watch and enjoy the competition. Many folks come for the fun year after year.

“You come here one time and I will have you on the edge of your seat,” John promises.

The rodeo is located at 6319 Sommerville Valley Rd., just outside the Village of Ellicottville. Shows will be held July 2 – 4 at 7 p.m. (gates open at 5 p.m.) and Sunday, July 5 at 2 p.m. (gates open at noon). Spectacular fireworks follow all three evening shows. Be sure to get there early to check out the delicious food and many vendors, and stay late to enjoy “slack” (i.e. more rodeo events) under the lights following the fireworks each evening.

Admission is $18 for adults, $9 for children 12 and under, and free for children under age 5. Pre-sale tickets are available until June 26, and tickets are also available at the gate the day of the shows. Visit