CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Rodeo fans young and old packed the stands of the Dixie Sunbowl on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights as the St. George Lions Club hosted their 86th annual Dixie Roundup Rodeo in the heart of downtown.
Jeff Twitchell, chairman of the Dixie Roundup Rodeo committee, estimated that as many as 5,000 people were in attendance each evening. The historic Dixie Sunbowl can seat approximately 4,200 people, but general admission tickets kept selling as people stood near the rails or walked around the arena.
“It was a big success for the club and for the community,” Twitchell said.
The Dixie Roundup Rodeo is sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Payouts are awarded to the top eight finishers in the bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping and bull riding events.
Cowboys and cowgirls traveled from across Utah and neighboring states to compete; others came from as far away as Illinois, Mississippi and South Carolina, plus a few Canadian entries. Representing Southern Utah, Stetson Wright of Milford took first place in bull riding. His draw, named Monkey Springs, was one of many animals provided by Bar T Rodeo, the long-standing livestock contractor for the event.
The finals on Saturday night began with the grand entry, as riders raced around the arena carrying flags representing event sponsors. Utah state Sen. Don Ipson, this year’s grand marshal, made an honorary lap by car. The Mercy Air medical helicopter out of Mesquite, Nevada, performed a flyover.
Local police officers, firefighters, paramedics, health care professionals and military service members took to the field during a salute to first responders and those working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the rodeo always pays tribute to these brave men and women, Twitchell said, this ceremony was particularly poignant in light of the events of the past several months.
“This year was probably one you will never, ever forget,” he said. “It was very touching. … People were in tears.”
Dalton Morris, a professional rodeo entertainer from Missouri, delighted audiences with fiery lasso twirling and a daring whip trick. And rodeo clown Randee Munns, a familiar face to audiences over the years, once again served as comic relief.
On behalf of the Lions, Twitchell expressed gratitude for this year’s volunteers and more than 30 sponsors, along with local leadership. They were assisted each night by members of the St. George Lady Lions, Washington County high school students involved with the Future Farmers of America and missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Dixie State University men’s wrestling team helped with setup and disassembly after the event.
St. George City Council member Michele Randall was instrumental in gathering volunteers, Twitchell said, while Mayor Jon Pike lent a hand by cooking hamburgers and working the concessions. Southern Utah residents Cindy and Tony Cannon and Sherrie Staheli Tait have dedicated many years to the success of the rodeo, which serves as the Lions’ sole annual fundraiser and supports many charitable causes.
Radio personality Carl Lamar with 99.9 KONY Country served as grand marshal in 2019 and has covered the rodeo for local media every year since 1987. He attributed the event’s longevity to the sense of community it provides, drawing people of all ages from across Washington County and surrounding areas.
“It’s such a tradition,” he said. “It’s an evening for people to get together to see their friends, have a good time and enjoy the food and the action. It’s just a great feeling.”
Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
• S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T •
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.