Hunter Norman’s close friend Ryan Rivera used Hunter’s saddle to compete in the ranch bronc event at the memorial rodeo in honor of Hunter. Rivera and his girlfriend, Brienna Wynn, longtime friends of Hunter’s, saddled up the horse and got it ready for “Hunter’s Last Ride.”

C&I talks to organizers about the successful inaugural rodeo in Grand Junction, Colorado.

After the inaugural memorial event on June 23, 2018, for the young cowboy tragically killed in a car accident, we checked in with organizers to see how things went.

Here’s their report about who showed, who won, and how much it meant to everyone.

Nearly 500 spectators, 51 competitors, local business owners, and countless family and friends turned out for the 1st Annual Hunter Norman Memorial Bulls & Ranch Broncs event on Saturday, June 23, 2018, at the Mesa County Fairgrounds in Grand Junction, Colorado. The event honored and paid tribute to respected Western Slope ranch bronc rider Hunter Norman, a 20-year-old Fuita Monument High School graduate who lost his life in a tragic accident in early May.

The event showcased fierce competition and big payouts and prizes. Competitors came from Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, and throughout Colorado. Premier bucking stock was provided by Ty Farris, Lonny Lancaster, Bryan Flynn, and Wes Clegg of 7C Buckers. Nine-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.”

Gate-pullers wearing custom-made “Hunter Norman Memorial” shirts.

Mendes said Hunter had such an impact on his life because he always wanted to help somebody else. “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.”

One of the special moments from the evening featured “Hunter’s Last Ride”: A horse wearing 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.

“We wanted to make this event the No. 1 stop in the month of June,” said two-time Colorado Bullfighter of the Year Tyler Williams, one of the event organizers. “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. 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.”

The annual memorial event will continue to celebrate the young cowboy’s life and his love and passion for ranch bronc riding. Plans are already underway for next year’s rodeo to potentially include a concert, raffle, and silent auction.

Pacience Williams, the daughter of event organizers Tyler and Crystal Williams, carried the flag during the grand entry at the event.

Winners List — 1st Annual Hunter Norman Memorial Bulls & Ranch Broncs

Ranch Broncs

1st Place: Tyler Williams ($2,700 + custom hat from Rocky Mountain Hat & Boots and Hunter Norman Buckle from A Cut Above)
2nd Place: Wes Rosengreen ($1,620 + Hunter Norman Memorial Spurs from A Cut Above)
3rd Place: Dallin Anderson ($1,080 + Hunter Norman Memorial Jacket from Bud Signs)
High Point Ride in the Long Round — 81 points: Travis Harrison & Kasey Rosendahl (custom-made bronc halter from Tel Campbell + rein donated from The Horse in Sport)

Bulls

1st Place: Nate Hoey ($2,600 + Hunter Norman Memorial Buckle from A Cut Above)
2nd Place: Wyatt Hamilton ($1,560 + custom hat from Rocky Mountain Hat & Boots)
3rd Place: Wyatt Bronson ($1,040 + 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)

Tyler Williams, one of the organizers of the memorial rodeo and close friend of Hunter’s, wins 1st place in the Ranch Bronc competition.
Hunter Norman

For information on next year’s event and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Scott Norman at 970.471.5900.

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