A tragic death, a brand-new memorial rodeo, and the hearts of parents and cowboys everywhere.
Every day in the magazine business, a lot of press releases cross your desk looking for coverage and hundreds of things stream into your email inbox vying for attention. A couple of days ago, a colleague sent a press release that got not just my attention but also my heart.
The release detailed the first annual Hunter Norman Memorial Bulls & Ranch Broncs event honoring a young Western Slope rider killed in a one-car accident on May 6. I’ve reproduced the release in its entirety below so cowboys who want to enter and people who want to attend the June 23 event have all the information they need.
Following the release, I’ve shared a heartwarming and heartbreaking e-mail correspondence I had with the young man’s father.
1st Annual Hunter Norman Memorial Bulls & Ranch Broncs Honors Western Slope Rider
Grand Junction, Colorado (May 22, 2018) — The 1st Annual Hunter Norman Memorial Bulls & Ranch Broncs debuts on Saturday, June 23, 2018, at 7 p.m. at the Mesa County Fairgrounds in Grand Junction, Colorado. The event pays tribute to and honors respected Western Slope ranch bronc rider Hunter Scott Norman, who passed away unexpectedly earlier this month. With an added guarantee of $3,000+ for ranch broncs and $2,500+ for bull riding, the event is anticipated to draw competitors from near and far.
Organizers of the memorial include family and longtime friends of the Fruita Monument High School Class of 2016 graduate Hunter Norman. This annual memorial helps the community celebrate the young cowboy’s life through his love and passion for ranch bronc riding and by putting on the best bronc and bull-riding event that has come to the area. Event organizer and two-time Colorado Bullfighter of the Year (2007, 2013) Tyler Williams and his wife, Crystal, have been engrained in the Western Slope community their whole lives and promise to put on an unforgettable annual event this year and for many years to come.
For those interested in competing in the 1st Annual Hunter Norman Memorial Bulls & Ranch Broncs, details are as follows:
- $3,000+ added guarantee for Ranch Broncs (limited to 30 riders)
- $2,500+ added guarantee for Bull Riding (limited to 20 riders)
- Top 10 to Short-Go
- Payouts for 1st, 2nd& 3rd places (plus other awards)
- Buckles, spurs, jackets, and a bronc halter awarded to high-point rider in Ranch Broncs
- Ranch Broncs Entry Fee – $200; Bull Riding Entry Fee – $150
- Half of entry fee must be paid before June 8, 2018 (cashier’s check, money order, or cash)
- Entry fees are nonrefundable
Special thanks to buckle sponsors Diamond Peak Cattle Company and Twin Butte Ranch. Special thanks to stock contractors Ty Farris, Lonny Lancaster, Bryan Flynn, and Wes Clegg of 7C Buckers. And special thanks to event sponsor Growing Spaces Greenhouses based in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
Ticket prices are $10 for adults (5 years old and over); $25 for family of four; $5 for Seniors (65 years and older); all children under 5 years old are free. The Mesa County Fairgrounds is located at 2785 US-50, Grand Junction, Colorado 81503. For more details on Mesa County Fairgrounds, visit their website at mesacounty.us/fairgrounds/events/ or call 970.255.7107.
For entry fee registrations and other details, please contact Tyler and Crystal Williams at 970.589.2369. For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Scott Norman at 970.471.5900. To donate to the event, please visit: gofundme.com/hunter-norman-memorial-rodeo2018.
A Conversation With a Surviving Parent
I corresponded with Hunter’s father, Scott Norman, who lives in Denver, to get a better sense of the young man the event honors.
Hunter as a Kid
Hunter was born in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and grew up in Avon, just outside of Vail. He was a super-active kid. He was an all-around athlete who participated competitively in hockey, football, baseball, basketball, and snowboarding. In addition, he took advantage of all that the Colorado mountains had to offer, including dirt biking, fly-fishing, mountain biking, and camping.
Hunter as a Cowboy
In hindsight, it seems that his love for horses had always been there, although quite honestly, we accidentally stumbled upon it. In the summer of 2004, I was self-employed as a mortgage broker, and as a single parent, I needed something to do with Hunter during the day. He convinced me to allow him to check out Spraddle Creek Ranch in Vail, a day-trip guest ranch that was run primarily by a group of cowboys who actively participated in the Beaver Creek Rodeo. After a few sessions at Spraddle Creek, Hunter was volunteering to clean horse stalls and saddle up horses for customers. Within a few weeks, his affinity for being in the saddle was apparent.
Hunter was a true cowboy who loved driving cattle in open space as well as chasing rodeos from town to town. He was a strong-willed young man who was surrounded by a group of exceptional hardworking young people — the kind you find in small-town America.
Hunter loved country music, but not the type you hear on popular country radio today. He was an old soul whose musical influences ranged from Tyler Childress to Ian Munsick to Tom T. Hall.
Hunter as a Bronc Rider
When Hunter was 14, he and I were living in the top of a renovated barn in Broomfield, Colorado, that was located on a horse-boarding facility. I was working full time out of house while simultaneously homeschooling him. Truth is, every time I tried to sit him down to do his schoolwork, I would find him in one of the indoor or outdoor arenas on the facility.
Not long after this, he introduced the idea of living with adult friends on the Western Slope, where he would have access to more complete facilities. After getting a commitment from him to continue his pursuit of a high school degree, I allowed him to move to the Western Slope to further pursue his passion for rodeo. At this time, he wanted to be a competitive roper, but he soon came to the realization that his true abilities in the saddle involved breaking horses. After countless hours in the practice pen, he first exited a chute in a competitive event in Parachute, Colorado, at the age of 15.
Thoughts About the Event Named for Hunter
It means everything to me. Even though his life was cut way too short, the impact that Hunter had on the Western Slope community was profound and is being reflected in this event. He found his true calling and passion in life at a very young age, and for this community to celebrate his life in this manner speaks volumes to the beliefs and values that have been engrained in the Western Slope for generations. Although I am heartbroken that he is gone, I am grateful that he spent the last five years of his life in this community doing what he loved.