Friday, January 20, 2006

Days of the Old West named 'Rodeo of the Year'

The Days of the Old West rodeo, which has been a Fourth of July fixture in Hailey since 1947, has been named the "Rodeo of the Year" for 2005 by the Intermountain Professional Rodeo Association (IMPRA) and the Idaho Cowboys Association.

The award was collected last Saturday in Pocatello by Ted Uhrig, who founded the Hailey rodeo in 1947.

"It feels real good, I tell you what," Uhrig said about the award, adding that it's the third such distinction in the Days of the Old West's 58 years of existence. "There are 54 rodeos sanctioned in this association, so to be picked No. 1 is quite an honor."

Uhrig, 72, who lives in Shoshone with his wife Maxine, was the Days of the Old West director for about 30 years prior to 1997, when he retired. But last spring, the Sawtooth Rangers Riding Club, which Uhrig also founded in 1947, urged him to come out of retirement.

"They needed some help," he said. "They asked me to come back and I did."

Determining "Rodeo of the Year" honors falls in the hands of the cowboys and cowgirls who participate in the sanctioned events and vote on their overall quality.

Uhrig said he was unaware of what made the event such a hit among the participants, but 2005 did feature some fresh highlights.

First, the rodeo went back to its semi-professional roots, attracting the top IMPRA riders instead of lower-tier pro riders. A new stock contractor—Jay Hogan's Red Eye Rodeo Company out of Terreton, Idaho—was also used, and new events like the mutton bustin' and donkey calf roping for kids made the rodeo more family friendly, which was one of Uhrig's goals.

Uhrig credited everybody involved with the rodeo for the award.

"To make everything run well, you need to have a good committee, which is what we have," he said. "We have real good support from our sponsors, good support from the media, the Lions Club and Chamber all work hard and we have a lot of volunteers.

"When you put that all together it makes it a good celebration and a good rodeo."

Uhrig said he will return as director again this year, and probably for a few more years.

"Once a cowboy, always a cowboy," he said.

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