saddle-bronc-1By Alicia Dziak

Looking for some good, old-fashioned family fun this Fourth of July weekend? The Ellicottville Championship Rodeo is back, and it’s bigger and better than ever! Located at 6319 Sommerville Valley Road just outside Ellicottville, the rodeo is in its 26th year of bringing the Wild West to the Enchanted Mountains.

“There will be about 450 to 500 cowboys and cowgirls coming in this year. They come from all over the USA and Canada,” said Karen Kent, who owns and runs the rodeo with her husband, John.

The weekend event will bring in these athletes for 10 standard rodeo events, including Bareback Bronc Riding, Saddle Bronc Riding, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Junior Bull Riding, Team Penning, Cowgirls Barrel Racing, Calf Roping, Cowgirls Breakaway Roping and Bull Riding.

“There is a new event this year. It is called Cowgirls Breakaway,” explained Kent. “It’s similar to calf roping done by the cowboys, but once the lasso is caught on the calf’s neck, the rope is released from the horn on the saddle.”

For those who could use some Rodeo 101, the Ellicottville Rodeo is divided into two categories — rough-stock (or riding) events and timed events.

In riding events, contestants get a score from each of the judges. Scores are based on riding style, control and ability to make the 8-second whistle. Judges award the rider on how well he rides and scores the horse or bull on the same point scale for how well the animal bucks. If the animal bucks the rider off, the judges will record a score only for the animal.

In timed events, contestants try to complete their event the quickest without receiving any penalties.

The rodeo also features rodeo clowns and various other acts. According to Kent, a new addition to the 2014 lineup is a female trick riding team that is coming in from Texas to entertain the crowd. (Trick riding is when stunts are performed while riding a horse.)

The fun doesn’t end there! There is also a Kids’ Stick Horse Race, where kids age 10 and under can bring a stick horse and be part of the rodeo action. Registration is at the K-D Tack Tent, which is located right when you walk through the gate. Kids should bring their own stick horse or they can purchase one on-site.

Gates open two hours before the rodeo begins so guests can enjoy the midway that’s chock full of great food and vendors, and highlighted by a chicken barbecue.

There are only four days a year to take in the sights and sounds of an authentic rodeo right in Ellicottville — don’t miss out on your chance to be part of this spectacular event! The rodeo will be held July 3, 4 and 5 at 7 p.m. (gates open at 5 p.m.), and on July 6 at 2 p.m. (gates open at noon), with fireworks following the three evening shows.

“Rodeo is fun for the whole family and there is lots of action in the arena!” Kent said.

Reflecting upon 26 years of bringing the rodeo to the East, Kent added, “It is always fun to see all the happy faces that come for the rodeo and to see kids that came when they were young now bring their own kids or grandkids.”

Admission is $17 for adults, $9 for children ages 12 and under, and free for children under age 5. Pre-sale tickets are available until June 30, and tickets are also available at the gate the day of the shows. For pre-sale tickets or for more information, visit