Tyler Smith had a firm one-handed grip on a bull during last year's Canyonlands PRCA Rodeo at the Old Spanish Trail Arena. [Photo courtesy of James Fain]

Which sport is more popular than golf or tennis?

If you answered “rodeo,” then you probably know all about the Canyonlands PRCA Rodeo, which returns to the Old Spanish Trail Arena for three days next week.

If you’re not familiar with the sport and want to find out what it’s all about, rodeo organizers invite you to come down to the arena for three days of steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, barrel racing and many other cowboy contests.

“We want people to know that they can bring their families out, eat, have fun and just enjoy the whole evening,” Canyonlands PRCA Rodeo Club secretary Marsha Leota said.

This year’s rodeo begins on Thursday, June 4, and runs through Saturday, June 6. The gates will open at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, and the rodeo begins at 7 p.m. at the arena, which is located at 3641 S. U.S. Highway 191.

The nonprofit Canyonlands PRCA Rodeo Club, along with its many volunteers and sponsors, have been holding the event for more than 50 years. They hope to keep it going for future generations by engaging young people and building partnerships in the community, according to Leota and Canyonlands PRCA Rodeo Club chairman Kirk Pearson.

Aside from the livestock-themed events, this year’s highlights include two performances from Nashville singer-songwriter Bobby Cutshaw, who will stop by Club Rio in downtown Moab on Friday, June 5, and then return for an arena concert after the rodeo on Saturday, June 6.

Professional rodeo clown and barrelman “Backflip” Johnny Dudley will also be joining rodeo announcer Scott Grover, whose voice brings spectators as close to the action and contestants as they can get, according to his biographical sketch.

Throughout the rodeo, men (and women) can answer one simple question in the affirmative for the chance to win prizes, and to support the Moab Free Health Clinic’s mammograms for local women.

“Tough Enough to Wear Pink?” merchandise will be available for purchase, and spectators can show their support for breast cancer awareness by dressing up in pink clothing on Thursday night.

“All of our proceeds go to the free health clinic,” Leota said. “We encourage people that night to wear pink.”

Other events are tailored to women and children, as well.

In addition to a Women’s Pro Rodeo during the main event, there will also be a barrel race for Moab-area residents on Friday, June 5, at 10 a.m., according to Pearson.

“Any of the local girls can run,” he said.

Spectators can watch the local barrel race for free.

Kids who want to mimic grown-up cowboys can sign up for mutton bustin’ and stick pony races on Tuesday, June 2, at O’Reilly Auto Parts, 1026 S. Main St.

The first of the two races is like bull or bronc riding. But instead of adults riding animals that weigh a ton or more, kids ride or race sheep. Mutton bustin’ is open to children who are 7 to 10 years old and weigh under 65 pounds.

The stick pony race, meanwhile, will be divided two age groups: one for children who are 3 to 4 years old, and one for 5- to 6-year-olds.

Last but not least, the rodeo will be hosting a free event that welcomes everyone in the community.

The Annual Rodeo Parade through downtown Moab will begin at Swanny City Park, 400 N. 100 West, at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and Pearson encourages anyone who would like to officially march in the parade to sign up now.

“It’s free advertising for any businesses who show up,” he said.

Official parade entries must be received by 5 p.m. on Friday, May 29, at the latest. Applications are available at Moab Realty, which is located at 300 S. Main St. in the Walker Drug plaza.

Advance ticket prices for the rodeo itself cost $14 per adult and $9 for children; they are available at the Moab Information Center, the Bighorn Lodge, Canyonlands Copy Center, Western Image and City Market. Tickets can also be purchased online at moabcanyonlandsrodeo.com, where information about special Thursday rates can be found.

Canyonlands PRCA event kicks off on June 4

“We want people to know that they can bring their familes out, eat, have fun and just enjoy the whole evening.”

When: Thursday, June 4, through Saturday, June 6

Where: Old Spanish Trail Arena, 3641 S. U.S. Highway 191

Cost: Advance ticket prices are $14 per adult and $9 for children; tickets at the door cost $16 per adult and $10 per child; free admission for children 2 and under

Information: moabcanyonlandsrodeo.com; 435-260-2222