Change in management of Ride for the Brand
The annual Ride for the Brand rodeo - scheduled July 4 this year - is now run by the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Foundation. Until this year, the four local partners
who had started the event in 2003 had also organized it and put it on.
Other than perhaps greater promotion through the foundation's marketing company, “the average person will not see the difference,” said Bill Miller, manager of the Norris-Penrose Event Center, which is owned by Pikes Peak or Bust. As before, the rodeo will be at Norris-Penrose and part of the multi-rodeo Working Ranch Cowboy Association (WRCA) tour. It will also have events unique to working cowboys, live music afterward, a downtown “cattle drive,” and various other day- before and day-of activities.
The change in management control was not entirely amicable. This is evident in the expected absence of Waddie Mitchell, the well-known cowboy poet. He had helped start the multi-rodeo WRCA - with the goal of using its proceeds to help out working cowboys - and has served every year as Ride for the Brand's “emcee on horseback.” However, Mitchell is also close to Western Jubilee Recording Company, which has produced his recordings since 1994. And two of the four original partners (Scott O'Malley and Kathleen Collins) - who against their will are no longer involved with the rodeo - represent the management of Western Jubilee.
The change in control of Ride for the Brand reflects a philosophical split among the partners. In separate interviews, it came out that two of them, Bob Harrison and Mark Bukowski, decided that the event (never a big money-maker) was in danger of losing sponsors in a weak economy and needed stronger backing to survive. O'Malley and Collins, believed the event could continue as before. Harrison and Bukowski went to the foundation, which agreed to take it on in conjunction with the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo less than a week later. “It's [Ride for the Brand] a great event,” Harrison said. “We'd hate to lose it.” Bukowski emphasized that the Foundation, which will split its proceeds between military charities and the WRCA, will be no richer in the bargain.
Adding the word “championship” to the event name - making it “Ride for the Brand Championship Ranch Rodeo” - appears to be sufficient, from a legal standpoint, to avoid any potential ramifications over the original, registered, “Ride for the Brand Ranch Rodeo” name, Bukowski said.
O'Malley and Collins expressed keen disappointment at what happened. They said they have yet to be personally informed about the changeover. Collins said she heard about it from a sponsor. “It's so un-cowboy, unpolite, and ungentlemanly like,” she said.
Mitchell himself could not be reached, but, according to Collins, “Waddie is appalled.”
The home page of their website for the event (rideforthebrandranchrodeo.com) bears this message: “Due to circumstances far beyond our understanding or control, we announce with profound regret that Ride For The Brand Ranch Rodeo will not be held on July 4th weekend of 2009.”
Westside Pioneer article