Cowboy Up!


The Coors Showdown is coming to Hailey

By Mike McKenna

Hailey has always been a rodeo kind of town.

With rugged Old West roots, the first informal rodeos were held in the new Wertheimer Park in 1913. That’s about the same time famous rodeos in places like Pendleton, Ore., and Calgary, Alberta, Canada, got started.

In 1948, Ted Uhrig and the Sawtooth Rangers Riding Club wrangled up some help from throughout the community to build the first official rodeo grounds. The circular wooden rodeo grounds became home to the “Wood River Roundup,” the star of the city’s annual Fourth of July celebration. In the early 1960s, the Independence Day rodeo changed its name to its current title, the “Days of the Old West Rodeo.”

In 2013, locals approved a bond to remodel the rodeo grounds and add an ice sheet in the winter. Dirt from hooves and boots started flying soon thereafter.

The tradition continues on August 7 when the Coors Showdown comes to town.

The Vision Quest Events (VQE) team will put on the Coors Showdown, which is an expanded version of the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Classic they have brought to Hailey over the past decade.

In addition to the usual stock of surly bulls and (slightly crazy but seriously tough) bull riders, the Coors Showdown will feature some of the finest cowboys and cowgirls in the West competing in bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and women’s breakaway roping—one of the fastest growing events in rodeo. There will also be a concert after the rodeo starring country music up-and-comers Luke Kaufman and Matt Borden.

“This is professional rodeo at its finest,” said Judd Mortensen, of VQE. And Judd should know—he not only helps put on the Coors Showdown each summer, but he also spent years on the pro rodeo circuit as a cowboy himself.

Judd knows all about the meaning of the term “cowboy up.” When things get tough, you’ve got to get back up, dust yourself off and get back in the saddle— “cowboy up” for short. It’s the type of attitude you need to make it in rodeo and to be successful in this post-pandemic world.

After missing out on coming to Hailey last year because of COVID restrictions, Judd and his posse are happy to be getting back in the saddle and bringing rodeo home to one of its Idaho roots.

“This is a great town with a real rodeo tradition and we’re really glad to be coming back,” Judd said. “We’re working hard to make sure we can bring the best rodeo possible to Hailey. We hope all the local rodeo fans will come out to see some of the top bucking bulls, cowboys and cowgirls compete for cash and buckles.”

The Coors Showdown will take place Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, at the Hailey rodeo grounds. Festivities kick off at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 each. Kids 6 and under are free. Tickets can be purchased at the Hailey Welcome Center, at any Atkinsons’ Market location or online at For more information, call The Chamber at (208) 788-3484.

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