A rider holds on to a horse at the 2017 Canyonlands PRCA Rodeo. The rodeo is returning to the Old Spanish Trail Arena in Moab on Friday, May 31. Spectators are welcome to watch a number of rodeo events, such as saddle bronc riding and team roping. [Photo by Murice D. Miller / Moab Sun News]

Moab may not be the cow town it used to be, you can still watch courageous cowboys and cowgirls riding bulls, roping calves, or wrestling steers at the Canyonlands PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) Rodeo. The rodeo is an annual Moab tradition for more than half a century.

Both cowboys and cowgirls will gather May 31 through June 2 at the Old Spanish Trail Arena, 3641 S. U.S. Highway 191, to participate in a number of rodeo events, including saddle bronc riding, team roping and bareback riding.

Each evening begins with a grand entry of flag-carrying “guys and gals” riding their horses, followed by a drill team of horses moving in a musically choreographed manner.

“It’s a pretty show,” Canyonlands PRCA Rodeo Club President Kirk Pearson said. “They’ve been practicing (twice a week) since February.”

The rodeo typically falls on the first weekend in June, often coinciding with high school graduation. For that reason, this year’s rodeo added Sunday to replace Thursday’s events so more kids can attend, Pearson said.

On Friday and Saturday, doors open at 6 p.m., with a pre-show starting at 6:30 p.m. The rodeo begins at 7 p.m. There’s a June 2 Sunday matinee when the doors open at noon, a pre-show begins at 12:30 p.m. and the rodeo starts at 1 p.m. 

Children ages 7 to 10, and who weigh less than 65 pounds, will have an opportunity to emulate older cowboys by participating in mutton bustin’ — an activity where kids ride a sheep that tries to buck them off. Younger children, ages 3 to 7, will be given a chance to race stick ponies.

“It’s fun to watch them,” Pearson said. “Everyone wins; everyone gets a prize.”

This year, the club reintroduced the rodeo royalty contest that was held April 27. Madison Munger was crowned queen, Chloe Talbot was named attendant and Rozalyn Krist won the title of junior queen. Each of the women were judged on horsemanship, speech, presentation and knowledge.

The rodeo royalty will ride in the Grand Entry, accompanying Miss Rodeo Utah’s McKaylie Richens, said Krista Wilson, a PRCA board member and queen contest chairwoman. The royalty will also help with the childrens’ events, she added.

“The rodeo is a fantastic event,” Wilson said. “It’s been a great part of our community and nation for years and years. It’s important to families. Rodeo is a great sport. It’s a good event to remind us of how things used to be once upon a time.”

Tickets for Saturday and Sunday are $17 at the door for adults, $11 for children or $50 for a family. Discounted tickets can be found online. Tickets for the Sunday matinee are $10 for adults and $5 for kids. There are discounted tickets for seniors and military veterans, as well as an online-only special offers like a three-day family pass for $100 and a three-day adult pass for $40.

Discounted tickets are also available to anyone “tough enough to wear pink,” Pearson said.

Tickets are available at four Moab outlets, including the Moab Information Center at the corner of Center and Main; City Market, 425 S. N. Main St; and Canyonlands Copy Center, 375 S. Main St.

Watch bull riders, bronc riding, barrel racing at traditional cowboy, cowgirl event

When: Friday, May 31, through Sunday, June 2

Time: 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; 1 p.m. on Sunday

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

Cost: Ticket prices vary

Info: Call 435-259-4852 or email info@moabcanyonlandsrodeo.com

“It’s a good event to remind us of how things used to be once upon a time.”