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Get your cowboy hat. The Stampede is coming. Your guide to one of the country’s top rodeos

Here's a backstage look at the athletes behind the leather chaps

Just like other athletes, cowboys at the rodeo have to physically and mentally prepare for the competition ahead. This is what that's like.
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Just like other athletes, cowboys at the rodeo have to physically and mentally prepare for the competition ahead. This is what that's like.

One of the country’s most prestigious rodeos returns to the Treasure Valley for the 103rd year this week.

The Snake River Stampede kicks off Tuesday evening and runs each night before crowning its champions Saturday. The event draws 60,000 fans to the Ford Idaho Center over the week for nights filled with mutton busting, bucking broncos and the meanest bulls this side of the Mississippi.

Here’s what to watch for this week.

And for those who can’t get enough rodeo, mark your calendars: The Caldwell Night Rodeo is Aug. 14 to 18.

BIG-NAME COWBOYS

With a record $452,038 payout, the Stampede attracts some of the top talent in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

Sage Kimzey, the four-time defending world champ in bull riding, headlines the group headed to Nampa. He’s ranked No. 1 in the world this season and is joined by the circuit’s top-ranked bareback rider (Caleb Bennett) and tie-down roper (Tyson Durfey).

The rodeo also will showcase Idaho’s top cowboys. Five of the Top 40 bull riders in the world are Idaho natives, and all five will compete this week in their home state.

The list includes Stone’s Riker Carter (18th), Challis’ Ruger Piva (31st) and Rexburg’s Garrett Smith (36th), who will all turn in their first ride Tuesday. Caldwell’s Brady Portenier (24th) and New Plymouth’s Roscoe Jarboe (25th) ride Wednesday.

The center's financial picture has improved in recent years, but it still costs the city hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. Horse lovers say the key to stability is bringing in more money.

TICKETS AND START TIME

You can purchase tickets at SnakeRiverStampede.com or at the Idaho Center box office. Tickets range from $12.75 to $34.50 Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights before going up to $14.75 to $36.50 on Friday and Saturday nights.

The Saturday matinee provides the best deal with tickets from $10.25 to $20.75. Children 12 and under get in for free to the matinee, and no alcohol is served.

Parking is free each day.

The pre-rodeo starts each night at 6:45 p.m. with the main event following at 7:30 p.m. For the Saturday matinee, the pre-rodeo begins at 11:15 a.m. with the rodeo at noon.

WEEK OF EVENTS

The Stampede isn’t just the rodeo. Other highlights at the Idaho Center include:

  • Buckaroo Breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m. Tuesday. Admission is $5 and all profits are donated to the Canyon County 4-H Endowment Program.

  • Pink on the Dirt Luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday. The lunch is part of the Stampede for the Cure that has raised $700,000 since 2006 to help women get mammograms. Admission is $35.

  • The Dance on the Dirt concert follows the rodeo Friday night featuring the Jeff Palmer Band.

NIGHTS FULL OF ENTERTAINMENT

Don’t expect a lull between rodeo events.

The Snake River Stampeders Night Light Drill Team returns for the 22nd year at the rodeo. The synchronized teams ride through the dark on horseback with lights festooned to their clothing, creating a show that has traveled to the National Finals Rodeo and the Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Headlining the entertainment though is Loop Rawlins, who is billed as a one-man Wild West show. The trick roper has performed with Cirque du Soleil, reached the quarterfinals of America’s Got Talent in 2014 and performed stunts in the movie “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.”

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