A rodeo clown works to distract a bull at last year's Canyonlands PRCA Rodeo. This year's event will take place Thursday, May 29 through Saturday, May 31 at the Old Spanish Trail Arena with the doors opening nightly at 5 p.m. [Photo courtesy of Charlie Kulander]

Bull riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling, and even mutton bustin’ will all be happening at the annual Canyonlands PRCA Rodeo May 29, 30, and 31 at the Old Spanish Trail Arena.

A tradition in Grand County for over 50 years, the Canyonlands PRCA Rodeo features three nights of live rodeo action. Doors to the arena open 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 29 and spectators are invited to come out and enjoy food vendors and the Brown’s Amusements carnival. At 7:30 p.m. the Grand Entrance will begin with the Moab Rodeo Drill Team carrying sponsorship flags and the American flag. Rodeo action including steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, barrel racing, bull riding, bareback riding, and calf roping, will proceed after the Grand Entrance.

Thursday night is also the Tough Enough to Wear Pink event. Tough Enough to Wear Pink is a national campaign raising funds and awareness for breast cancer. Sponsored by Moab Grill and the Moab Free Health Clinic, the event helps support local organizations with breast cancer treatment.

“Tough Enough to Wear Pink is the cowboy version of the fight against cancer,” said Kirk Pearson, chairman of the rodeo board. “All of our donations also go back locally.”

Individuals interested in participating in Tough Enough to Wear Pink can purchase their pink support ribbons at Zax or the Moab Grill before the rodeo. There will also be Tough Enough to Wear Pink merchandise available to purchase at the rodeo.

Each night of the rodeo will also feature two kid’s events: stick pony races and mutton bustin’. In the stick pony races, children will race their stick steeds though an obstacle course of straw bales, sawhorses, barrels, and more in a timed race. The kids will be broken into two age groups: 3-to-4-year-olds and 5-to-6-year-olds.

Children 7 to 10 years old are invited to register for mutton bustin’. In mutton bustin’, children are placed upon a sheep in the pen. Once the sheep is released it is time to hold on for the ride. Winners are decided by who holds on the longest.

On Friday, May 30, a special local jackpot barrel racing event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., before the evening’s rodeo.

“Anyone can come out and ride,” Pearson said. “They can do also multiple entries with a different horse.”

Prizes will depend on how many riders enter the event. There is a $40 entry fee and all the money will be put back into a jackpot for winners. Prizes will be awarded to first, second and third places. Signups for the jackpot barrel racing will start at 9 a.m. at the arena.

The rodeo will also host the annual rodeo parade down Main Street on Saturday, May 31. The parade starts at 10 a.m. Applications for parade participants are available at the rodeo’s website. The parade will start at Swanny City Park and run down Main Street to City Market.

After the closing of the rodeo events on Saturday, May 31, everyone is invited to attend dancing with the live local band Highwater. Highwater plays a mix of everything, including country, western, and classic rock. A cash bar, food, and the carnival will continue on until midnight.

Shuttles for the rodeo are being provided free of charge by the Moab Adventure Center. The shuttle will start pick-up at the Aarchway Inn and Holiday Inn Express at 5 p.m. It will continue down Main Street, stopping at the Super 8, Bowen Motel, Best Western Canyonlands Inn, Apache Motel, Big Horn Lodge, and Quality Inn. Its last pick-up stop will be at the Sleep Inn at 6:20 p.m. The shuttle will leave the arena 15 minutes after the rodeo ends to start its drop-off route. A special shuttle will also run on Saturday night to accommodate the dance, departing the arena at midnight.

New this year to the rodeo will be rodeo announcer Scott Grover and rodeo clown Gizmo McCracken. Grover received his PRCA card in 2005 and has since called rodeos across the country. Grover resides in Weston, Mo.

McCracken became a member of the PRCA in 1992. He logs around 45,000 miles a year crossing the country for rodeos. McCracken has worked 12 PRCA Circuit Finals Rodeos and was nominated twice for Comedy Act of the Year. He was also the feature act for the 2005 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

AmAsie Willison, who is a member of the Moab Rodeo Drill Team and will also be carrying the American flag on Friday night, said the seeing the Canyonlands PRCA Rodeo is a great opportunity for Moab locals to experience professional level rodeo competition.

“Moab locals should come out to support the sport of rodeo; It’s going to be a great year,” she said. “Plus who doesn’t want to see real cowboys who make it to the Nationals Final Rodeo ride here, in our town?”

Tickets for the rodeo can be purchased at a discounted price from City Market, the Moab Information Center, Big Horn Lodge, and Canyonlands Copy Center. They can also be purchased at the door. Adults are $16, children under 12 are $10, and a family can get a group rate of $50. The Canyonlands PRCA Rodeo kicks off Thursday, May 29 with the doors opening at 5 p.m. and runs through Saturday, May 31.

“The rodeo is one of the few just community events. It is geared for our community and this is one way we can give back to our community,” Pearson said. “There are kid events, and adult events, and just fun for everyone.”

PRCA Rodeo stops in Moab

“Who doesn’t want to see real cowboys who make it to the Nationals Final Rodeo ride here, in our town?”

What: Canyonlands PRCA Rodeo

Where: Old Spanish Trail Arena, 3641 S. Hwy 191

When: Thursday, May 29 through Saturday, May 31. Doors open at 5 p.m.

Cost:$16 for adults, $10 for children under 12, $50 for a family