Don’t miss the GCPRA-sanctioned Lost Dutchman Days rodeo Feb. 23-25

The Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo, to be held Feb. 23-25 at the Apache Junction Rodeo Grounds, 1590 E. Lost Dutchman Blvd., at Tomahawk Road, is a full eight-event rodeo, with professional cowboys and cowgirls competing for prize money beginning at 1:30 p.m. each day. In 2017 entrants received more than $27,500 in prize money. It is a professional rodeo, sanctioned by the Grand Canyon Pro Rodeo Association (http://www.gcpra.net).

The classic events include bareback, calf roping, saddlebronc, steer wrestling, ladies breakaway roping, barrel racing, team roping and the crowd favorite of bull riding.

Team roping is held at 11 a.m. the Thursday before the rodeo. (Photo by Richard H. Dyer, Independent Newspapers)

The rodeo annually gets 400-plus entries, enough so that all the team roping will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 22. Slack, for those contestants not in the performances, is 9 a.m. Sunday. There is no charge for admission for the Thursday roping or Sunday slack. Stock will be provided by W/A Rodeo Co. and Buster Webb.

Rodeo is a competition among men and women using the same skills as the classic American cowboy. It got its roots from ranch hands who made wagers with the hands from neighboring ranches as to who best could rope and ride. From that, the horses got more rank, riding steers grew to bull riding and so on, and the American-born sport of rodeo still entertains many as the same scenario holds, “Who can best ride and rope?”

The Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo preserves that heritage: Enter up and pay your fees, the committee adds to it, and may the best cowboy and cowgirl win.

There is a $2 admission charge Saturday and Sunday to enter the AJ Rodeo Grounds and Event Center. Amenities for spectators’ comfort and enjoyment during their visit to Lost Dutchman Days and the Event Center include covered, metal bleachers seating for 2,000 to 2,500 people; and a 1,200-square-foot concession and restroom facility.

Rodeo advance ticket sales — $13 adult and $8 children 10 and under (tickets cost $2 more at the gate) — are available at the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce, 567 W. Apache Trail, 480-982-3141; or Crazy Horse Saddle Shop, 1484 W. Apache Trail, 480-671-0381.

The rodeo features hundreds of contestants, all of whom put up an entry fee to win the coveted Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo prize money and belt buckles.

Entry fees range from $80 a person for breakaway; $80 for steer wrestling; $70 for barrel racing; $80 for bareback, saddle bronc and calf roping; $90 for bull riding; and $80 each for team roping. There’s a $15 stock charge and a $10 administration fee per contestant. Additional details at gcpra.net or www.lostdutchmandays.org.

The carnival tickets for Lost Dutchman Days are for sale 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce, 567 W. Apache Trail. They are $20 in advance and $30 at the carnival. Cash only. Each ticket is good for one day only.

The dates and times of the Brown & Brown Amusements carnival are: 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, and Saturday, Feb. 24; and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25.

Returning for 2018, aspiring rodeo cowboys and cowgirls will get a chance to shine Sunday, Feb. 25, after the main rodeo event. “Mutton bustin’” – riding sheep – for age groups 4-5 and 6-7, will be the featured event in the competition. Entry fee is $10. Sign up at the information booth on Saturday, Feb. 24, for the first 30 entrants.

Editor Richard Dyer can be reached at rdyer@newszap.com

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