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One look at the contestant list and it’s easy to see that the Bares & Broncs — now in its 13th year — has morphed from a futurity pairing up-and-coming riders with up-and-coming horses, to something that has attracted the world’s best bareback and saddle bronc riders to come to Ellensburg this weekend.

Adding $10,000 per event in added money and earning PRCA sanctioning will do that for an event that’s already standing on its own merits.

The Daily Record Bares & Broncs has shown staying power in a climate that continues to change. Event organizer Daniel Beard, a part-owner of Wyoming-based Summit Pro Rodeo, came up with the idea of Bares & Broncs for multiple reasons: add a payday for regional roughstock talent, develop his own pen of horses and give rodeo fans something to enjoy while waiting for the Ellensburg Rodeo every Labor Day weekend.

“Bares & Broncs allowed me to build and develop as the event was developing,” he said last week. “The first few years I didn’t have a lot of horses, but some good horses. That futurity really helped me develop some great stock.”

The Bares & Broncs evolved to the point that the PRCA and now world-class contestants took notice.

“The PRCA has been aggressive in sanctioning stand-alone events,” he said. “These are showcase kind of events.”

Should we name drop? Sure. By my count, 13 of the top 15 bareback riders in the world are here, which includes nine world championships. So obviously I’m talking about world leader Tilden Hooper (the best hair in the biz, that flowing mane is worth the price of admission), five-time champ Kaycee Feild, three-time champ Tim O’Connell and 2019 champion Clayton Biglow.

How about saddle bronc riders? How about 11 of the top 15 saddle bronc riders in the world are here, and includes eight world championships (Stetson Wright, 3; Zeke Thurston, 2; Ryder Wright 2; Jesse Wright 1, Spencer Wright, 1).

“I had set my limits to 24 bareback and 24 bronc riders,” Beard said. “They took the entries and 46 bareback riders and 85 saddle bronc riders tried to get in. Obviously, that’s a four-day show,” he joked. “We took 36 and 40. When the PRCA sent me the entry list, I thought, ‘Wow. Wow. Holy cow.’”

The Bares & Broncs is positioned well on the calendar and on the map. The marquee rodeo of the week is Redding in Northern California, a nine-hour trip along Hwy 97 from Ellensburg. That’s a long trip, but easily justified when a cowboy can win a few grand. So bareback and saddle bronc riders can be up in Redding one night and in Ellensburg the next.

“This early in the season, everybody’s jockeying around for qualifications,” Beard said. “Every little bit helps get you into more rodeos and more importantly the bigger rodeos. And everything counts toward qualifying for the NFR.”

In addition to Summit stock, Western Rodeo and Big Bend/Flying 5 horses will be on display.

With the increased interest comes a different process for the fans, who are strongly encouraged to buy tickets online prior to the event, which can be found on or via the event’s Facebook page. Those showing up without tickets will still be directed online instead of buying at the gate. The Bares & Broncs is Friday and Saturday at the Ellensburg Rodeo arena. Gates open at 6 p.m. for the 7 p.m. start.

Jon Guddat covers rodeo — from the kids to the kids at heart — with a weekly rodeo column in the Daily Record. Contact Jon with story ideas at

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