Nearly 500 spectators, 51 competitors, local business owners and countless family and friends turned out in large numbers to attend the 1st Hunter Norman Memorial Bulls & Ranch Broncs event on Saturday, June 23rd, 2018. With fans filling the grandstands and riders packing the bucking chutes, people flocked to the event at the Mesa County Fairgrounds in Grand Junction to honor and pay tribute to respected Western Slope ranch bronc rider, Hunter Norman who lost his life in a tragic accident in early May.
The highly attended event is just a testament of the profound impact that 20-year old Fruita Monument High School graduate Hunter Norman had on the Western Slope community and beyond. With competitors coming in from Wyoming, Utah, Arizona and throughout Colorado and premier bucking stock from Ty Farris, Lonny Lancaster, Bryan Flynn and Wes Clegg of 7C Buckers, the event showcased fierce competition, big payouts and prizes in one of the best rodeo events to hit the Western Slope. 9-time PBR World Finals qualifier Tony Mendes made his return to bull riding at the event after a two-year hiatus to honor the memory and spirit of the beloved cowboy.
“It’s a blessing and an honor that everybody showed up and attended this,” Mendes said. “It speaks volumes on what Hunter represented as a cowboy. He had heart. He’d always show up with some young kid wanting to learn how to do it. He put a lot back into this sport and I guess that was my biggest thing with coming back. I haven’t been on a bull in two years and the love that that kid showed my sport, I really wanted to be a part of this event.”
“Hunter made an impact on my life because he always wanted to help somebody else,” Mendes said. “Hunter would show up at the practice pen out in Fruita and pay 10 bucks for some other kid to ride. He always gave back to the kids and always tried to help everybody. You’d never see him turn his back on nobody. To be a part of an event like this and to see everybody brought together doing what we love to do — that’s being a cowboy — it’s an honor and privilege. He had a heart. Hunter had a big heart. That’s why he made such a big impact and that’s why you see these people here. When he did something, he did it with his heart. He did it because he wanted to be a cowboy.”
Family and long-time friends of Hunter organized the event in just five weeks with the help of an incredible outpouring of support from sponsors and donations. The annual memorial event will continue to celebrate the young cowboy’s life through his love and passion for ranch bronc riding and plans are already underway for next year’s event to potentially include a concert, raffle and silent auction.
“It was a pleasure to work with Scott Norman and his team to host this event to honor the memory of his son, Hunter,” said Stacy Pinnt, Mesa County Fairgrounds Event Coordinator. “I think for this event’s first year, it was a big success and we look forward to working with them to make this event an annual one that just gets bigger every year.”
One of the special moments from the evening featured “Hunter’s Last Ride” where a horse wearing just Hunter’s saddle was sent out from the bucking chute just before the short round. As the horse ran across the arena, fellow competitors and friends threw out their cowboy hats to show their respect for Hunter Norman.
Winners List – 1st Hunter Norman Memorial Bulls & Ranch Broncs:
1st Place: Tyler Williams ($2700 + custom hat from Rocky Mountain Hat & Boots and Hunter Norman Buckle from A Cut Above)
2nd Place: Wes Rosengreen ($1620 + Hunter Norman Memorial Spurs from A Cut Above)
3rd Place: Dallin Anderson ($1080 + Hunter Norman Memorial Jacket from Bud Signs)
High Point Ride in the Long Round – 81 points: Travis Harrison & KaseyRosendahl (Custom-made Bronc Halter from Tel Campbell + rein donated from The Horse in Sport)
1st Place: Nate Hoey ($2600 + Hunter Norman Memorial Buckle from A Cut Above)
2nd Place: Wyatt Hamilton ($1560 + custom hat from Rocky Mountain Hat & Boots)
3rd Place: Wyatt Bronson ($1040 + Hunter Norman Memorial Jacket from Bud Signs)
High Point Ride in the Long Round – 82 points: Wyatt Hamilton (Custom-made Bull Rope from Beast Master Rodeo Gear)
“We wanted to make this event the No. 1 stop in the month of June. The crowd turned out and the ranch bronc riders and bull riders showed up. I’m going to say this is one of the biggest events Mesa County has had in a long time,” said two-time Colorado Bullfighter of the Year Tyler Williams, one of the event organizers. “Hunter, being only 20 years of age, had a big impact on a lot of people. It’s crazy to know the impact that he had. Community members and the family came together to make this event happen, and it means the world to us.”
Special thanks to buckle sponsors Diamond Peak Cattle Company and Twin Butte Ranch and stock contractors Ty Farris, Lonny Lancaster, Bryan Flynn and Wes Clegg of 7C Buckers. Special thanks to event sponsor Growing Spaces Greenhouses based in Pagosa Springs, Colorado and short round ranch broncs sponsor Joe and Beth Madaris from Trading Post Liquors in Grand Junction. And, special thanks to Mike Smith J for donating his beautiful custom flag art work for the silent auction item.
For information on next year’s event and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Scott Norman at 970-471-5900.