#Celebrating80Years: 2017 marked 80 years of working with Colorado’s nonprofits as they seek to strengthen their communities. Throughout 2018, we will be looking back on this history of the outstanding organizations and people the Trustees have had the opportunity to support. On the blog you will find a history of the Foundation’s grant making and a representative organization from every year since our founding in 1937.
Since 1979, the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy has been promoting the sport of rodeo to thousands of visitors every year. El Pomar’s support for this outstanding organization ties back to Spencer Penrose’s passion for promoting rodeo in the Pikes Peak region.
Grantee Spotlight: Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy
The Pikes Peak region has a long history with rodeo that dates back to 1911, when events were first hosted in the old Sportsman’s Park between North Nevada and North Cascade Avenues. Although the original rodeo died out in the late 1920s, Spencer Penrose resurrected the city’s connection to the sport in 1937 by building the Will Rogers Stadium and founding the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, which continues annually to this day.
While the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo continues to promote rodeo in Colorado Springs, the city gained another strong tie to the sport in 1979 with the opening of the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy. Welcoming about 35,000 visitors a year, the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame is the only heritage center in the world dedicated to rodeo and is designed to highlight Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) champions and provide opportunities to learn more about the history and traditions of the sport.
A life-sized statue called “The Champ” that depicts movie star and rodeo performer Casey Tibbs on the famous bucking horse, Necktie, welcomes visitors to the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. The Hall of Champions features more than 300 inductees and the Museum proudly displays a wide variety of saddles, hats and other equipment.
Because rodeo is so firmly rooted in western heritage, traditional values, and hard work, the Hall of Fame stays true to these core values as well, following what they refer to as the “Code of the West.” The organization also partners with a variety of other groups throughout the Colorado Springs community. For example, the Hall of Fame partners with the Pikes Peak Range Riders to help with the Pikes Peak Special Rodeo, an annual event for competitors with special needs, from which all proceeds are donated to local therapeutic riding centers. The organization also hosts fundraising events for other nonprofits at minimal cost.
El Pomar has granted nearly $900,000 to the organization since 1978, when the foundation provided an initial capital grant to help with construction.
El Pomar in 1996:
In its 60th year, El Pomar Foundation made a total of 203 grants totaling nearly $7.6 million. Grants ranged in size from $1.5 million to the City of Colorado Springs for the development of Confluence Park to several $1,000 grants to various Girl Scouts Councils across the state.
Spotlight by Kathryn Benson
Images and interview courtesy of Kent Sturman, Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy