By Steve Phillips
If you, too, grew up dreaming of being a cowboy, saddle-up for the wild and wooly Mountain Valley Stampede this summer in Heber. Th e August extravaganza has been a tradition in the valley for 75 years. Th is sanctioned Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) rodeo annually attracts some of the best riders, ropers and steer wrestlers in the United States. It’s a late summer stop on the popular “Wilderness” rodeo circuit, which thunders through cities and towns across the west.
Heber’s own Adaire Willoughby grew up immersed in rodeo tradition and handles publicity for the annual event. “I’ve been involved in rodeo almost my entire life; it’s been part of our family for a really long time,” says the marketing and advertising manager for Wasatch County Parks and Recreation. Both her grandfather and father have served on the county’s rodeo committee, organizers of the event. “My dad was a steer wrestler and team roper in his early days and he’s the committee chairman this year,” Willoughby says.
Timing of the Mountain Valley Stampede is critical for cowboys hunting the championship in November at the Wilderness Circuit Final, also at the Wasatch County Event Complex.
“Our rodeo stock [horses, bulls and cattle] come from Powder River Rodeo and D&H Cattle Company in Riverton, Wyoming. They provide excellent stock, the same used at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, and the riders get a look at the bulls and horses here that they’ll be riding there,” says Willoughby.
The annual Special Needs Rodeo is a popular companion event, held on Saturday morning before the Stampede. Children and young adults with physical and intellectual disabilities compete in riding, roping and their own queen contest. It’s a fun-filled family event drawing participants from across the state.
A royalty contest will be held on June 16 to select this year’s Stampede rodeo queen and her two attendants, as well as the rodeo princess and her two attendants.
Willoughby says the Mountain Valley Stampede draws the best competitors in the country because of the excellent stock and the heft y money prizes in each event. “We have very outstanding and generous sponsors. Th e higher payouts attract better cowboys and cowgirls and improve the quality of the rodeo.”
The Mountain Valley Stampede will be held August 5-6 at the Wasatch County Event Complex. An elite, colorful squadron of area skydivers will fly the American flag into the arena both nights, followed by the singing of the National Anthem. Riders saddle up each night at 7:30 p.m. Between evening events, dozens of children descend on the arena for stick-horse races and “mutton bustin’.” Th e crowd will erupt in laughter at the hilarious “Wild Child” specialty act. A spectacular fireworks display ends the rodeo each night.
Tickets go on sale
June 6, 2016 $12 / $15
Buy your tickets early.