New winter rodeo comes to the Sunbowl to fulfill a promise and preserve pioneer spirit

The historic Dixie Sunbowl, St. George, Utah, Jan. 13, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — When former St. George City Councilman Joe Bowcutt came into the office of his friend Jay Holcomb, he asked him to make a promise.

The chutes at the historic Dixie Sunbowl arena, St. George, Utah, Jan. 13, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

The promise was that he would find a way to use the Dixie Sunbowl more while the historic arena still stood. Bowcutt passed away just a day after that visit, Holcomb, general manager of Stephen Wade Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Fiat, said.

With that promise in mind, he is putting together the “Winter Roundup:” two weekends of Rocky Mountain Professional Rodeo Association sanctioned rodeo action to take place Feb. 7-8 and Feb. 20-21 in the Dixie Sunbowl.

Currently, the city of St. George has no immediate or future plans to tear down the Sunbowl, said David Cordero, communications and marketing director for the city. The City Council voted Jan. 9 to support the upcoming rodeo with the condition that a special event application is approved.

Still, it is no secret that Bowcutt loved the historic arena that is uniquely located in the center of St. George and that its continuation as a venue has been in jeopardy in the past.

Zeke Holcomb competes in a bull riding event during a rodeo, location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Jay Holcomb, St. George News

“The preservation of the Dixie Sunbowl in downtown St. George was a primary concern for Bowcutt when he chose to run for City Council in 2013,” said a previous St. George News story regarding the councilman’s legacy after his death.

“It’s really just me trying to keep a promise,” Holcomb said of organizing the rodeo at the Sunbowl, but he also hopes to keep alive the pioneer spirit and western way of life that the St. George area was founded on.

Like many who love the West have said before him, Holcomb believes there is a little bit of cowboy in everybody, he said.

That is certainly true for his sons Bubba and Zeke Holcomb, who are both attending college in Texas on rodeo scholarships.

Bubba Holcomb rides bareback bucking horses and Zeke rides bareback horses, bulls, and has recently started steer wrestling.

Unlike many rodeo kids the brothers haven’t been in the rodeo scene since they were little, Zeke Holcomb said. It wasn’t until he was 15 years old that the interest struck him.

Zeke Holcomb had been watching reruns of the National Finals Rodeo competition on television and told his dad that he wanted to be a saddle bronc rider.

Because the set up to become a saddle bronc rider is very expensive – saddles alone can run between $1,500 and $2,000 – Jay Holcomb suggested he try out bareback riding first.

About a week later, the brothers were on their way to Mt. Pleasant to learn how to ride bucking horses with Bar T Rodeo Livestock and Trucking, Zeke Holcomb said.

Bubba Holcomb rides in a bareback bucking event during a competitive rodeo, location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Jay Holcomb, St. George News

“I never turned back, never did pick up saddle bronc riding, I just stuck with bareback riding,” he said.

The brothers talk like old school cowboys, addressing everyone as sir or ma’am, and exhibit a great love for the rodeo life they have chosen.

The new Winter Roundup will give them a chance to ride in their hometown and gain added experience. The two will participate in the Feb. 7-8 event but will be participating in a college rodeo Feb. 20-21.

The Winter Roundup is a buckle series rodeo sanctioned by the Rocky Mountain Professional Rodeo Association – who will also be providing the rough stock for the event – and sponsored by Stephen Wade Ram, Jones Paint and Glass and the city of St. George.

Jay Holcomb said that additional sponsors are still needed for certain aspects of the rodeo but things are coming together nicely.

The roundup will feature all the classic rodeo events including bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, team roping, tie-down roping, barrel racing and bull riding. The rodeo will also feature breakaway roping, an event which is growing in popularity on the rodeo circuits.

Additionally, the Feb. 7-8 rodeo will be co-sanctioned by the National Senior Pro Rodeo Association, with participants 40 years or older competing in the bull riding event.

“If you want to see a bunch of old guys get tossed then make sure you come out,” Jay Holcomb said.

Tickets are $5 for children 12 and under and $10 for adults. All seating is general admission first-come, first-serve. Doors will open at 6 p.m. each night with music and entertainment to start the show and rodeo action will begin at 7 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at the following locations:

  • Stephen Wade Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Fiat, 1724 Hilton Drive, St. George.
  • St. George Shuttle, 1275 E. Red Hills Parkway, St. George.
  • At the gate on rodeo nights, 150 S. 400 East, St. George.

Jay Holcomb said the rain or shine event will be full of family-fun and excitement for everyone. Concessions will be available for purchase as well.

Flyer for the “Winter Roundup Series | Image courtesy of Jay Holcomb, St. George News

Event details

  • What: “Winter Roundup Series.”
  • When: Feb. 7-8 and Feb 20-21, doors at 6 p.m.
  • Where: Dixie Sunbowl, 150 S. 400 East, St. George.
  • Cost: Children 12 and under, $5; adults, $10. All seating is general admission.
  • Purchase tickets: At Stephen Wade Ram, 1724 Hilton Drive, St. George; at St. George Shuttle, 1275 E. Red Hills Parkway, St. George; or at the door on rodeo nights.
  • Additional information: The rodeo is a rain or shine event. Patrons should plan for the weather.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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