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Draper Journal

Draper Days Rodeo celebrates western heritage

Jun 28, 2018 10:20AM ● By City Journals Staff

The flag is formally presented at the opening of the 2017 Draper Days Rodeo. (Photo courtesy Katie Ovard-Smith/Draper Days Rodeo)

By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]

Without cattle-raising, there might not have been a city of Draper. According to the city’s official history, pioneer Ebenezer Brown settled in the area then known as South Willow Creek in 1849 because the tall grasses fed by mountain springs in the area were an abundant food source for his herd of cattle. Along with his wife and children, Brown raised and fattened cattle to sell to settlers on their way to California. In 1850, Brown’s brother-in-law, William Draper III, moved to South Willow Creek with his family and eventually became the city’s namesake.  

In light of the city’s cattle-raising history, it is only fitting that Draper Days should include a rodeo. Katie Ovard-Smith, chair for the rodeo, said, “We have such a great heritage of the Western lifestyle and want to bring that into our yearly celebration, to celebrate where we came from.”  

Ovard-Smith describes Draper as a real “horse community” as well. The Draper Days Rodeo has been honoring the traditions and skills of horsemanship since it began in 2000. Most of the riders who participate are members of the Rocky Mountain Professional Rodeo Association (RNPRA). The Draper Days Rodeo is part of a series in which participants compete.   

The 2018 Draper Days Rodeo will take place July 5–7 at the Ballard Equestrian Center on 1600 East Highland Drive. The pre-rodeo entertainment will begin at 7:30 p.m. followed by the rodeo events.

Several events comprise this year’s rodeo. Bronc riding, both bareback and saddle bronc competitions, involve a participant riding on a horse (sometimes called a bronc or bronco) that attempts to throw or buck off the rider. Bull riding is a rodeo event in which a contestant tries to ride a bucking bull for eight seconds, with one hand holding a rope tied to a band around the bull’s chest. 

The Draper Days Rodeo will also present roping events such as calf roping, which features a calf and a rider mounted on a horse. Team roping features a steer and two mounted riders. An event that showcases the bond between horse and rider is barrel racing, in which a mounted rider makes a series of sharp turns around three barrels in a clover-leaf pattern.

Members from the community can get in on the rodeo action at one of the wildest rodeo events, Wild Cow Milking. In this event, teams of three people are challenged to get close enough to a wild cow to milk it. The cow is loaded into a bucking chute and has a rope around its neck. The team that manages to catch the cow and get milk in their can is the winner. “It’s entertaining, it’s wild — absolutely,” said Ovard-Smith. 

This year’s pre-rodeo entertainment will be different from past years. Instead of mutton busting, there will be a presentation of trick riding. A former Miss Rodeo Draper, Belle Brown, will be one of the featured riders.    

As per tradition, each year a rodeo queen and her attendants are chosen. Rodeo royalty reign over the rodeo and present the event to the public. This year’s competition was held in May and was open to female residents of Salt Lake County ages 16–20. Competitors were judged on their abilities in western-style horse riding, public speaking, rodeo knowledge, appearance and personality. The new Miss Draper Rodeo Queen for 2018 is Tia Smith of Draper. Her first attendant is Maline Wallwork and second attendant is Mattea Osborne.  

For information on rodeo tickets or to sign up to participate in rodeo events — including the Wild Cow Milking — visit the web page for the Draper Days Rodeo at