On July 16, Carbondale’s Gus Darien arena was home to its second jaripeo, a Mexican bull riding tradition brought to life in the Valley. Thanks to ArtMarban and Sonador Promotions LLC, experienced event promoters with over a decade of expertise. This traditional rodeo style originated in Michoacán, Mexico, and modern iterations see riders holding on to bucking bulls until the bull tires out, or the rider is knocked off.
Previously, these jaripeos took place in Longmont, but after seeing that many Valley folk traveled over three hours to see the show, organizers thought it was a good idea to bring the tradition over the mountains.
“It’s a Mexican tradition that’s never been presented here in the Valley. Here, there’s only been eight-second rodeos. Those are totally different. These are more Mexican,” said Eduardo Esparza of Sonador Promotions.
Since this style of rodeo differs from what most American rodeo riders are accustomed to, jaripeo rodeos are performed by skilled Latino riders from across the country. At their July 16 show, riders from Utah displayed their talents. Riders from Minnesota, Texas and California previously performed proudly for Valley audiences.
“It’s a lot of emotions that they feel when they bring a small slice of what they live through in their homeland, bringing it here to the U.S. We want to repeat, this is not easy. It’s not easy to get on top of a bull,” Esparza said.
Drama is baked into bull riding. For the ranchers, the goal is to have their bulls gain a reputation as the toughest and most challenging in the pen. Such notoriety translates into a bigger purse, making it a matter of pride and financial gain.
On the flip side, riders want to break the bull and prove their skills. Their level of riding mastery influences their compensation, as their prowess and reputation draw higher-paying opportunities.
“Outside the rodeo, riders and ranchers are friends. Inside the rodeo, they’re enemies,” said Arturo Marban of ArtMarban.
Though thrilling, putting on an event of this magnitude comes with its own set of challenges, even for experienced promoters like Artmarban and Sonador Promotions. Taking a slice of Mexico and hauling it over to the Valley is an organizational challenge.
To get approval to have the jaripeo, Artmarban and Sonador Promotions spoke with many authorities, including the Town of Carbondale, local police, the fire department and even neighbors of the event that would hear the festivities go on for hours.
“It’s not as easy as having the idea and then doing it the week after. We’re going on approximately two years working on these permits, in all the requirements that the city asks of us,” said Esparza.
And make no mistake. These events are a massive financial undertaking.
“We’re talking about a cost of around $80,000 here, and if it doesn’t do well, we have to put up our own money,” said Marban.
This raises the question: why go through all this trouble? Simply put, for the passion and enjoyment. For the organizers, the joy and satisfaction they derive from hosting jaripeos outweigh the challenges. Witnessing families coming together to have fun, experiencing the unique emotions that only a jaripeo can evoke, brings immense fulfillment to the promoters.
The organizers have come a long way to put on this show. Now it’s to the point where senators, mayors and sheriffs have all been part of the dialogue as they worked to bring jaripeos to the Valley.
“It’s something that we didn’t think would come. We never imagined that we’d be seated at those tables. We’re important because we are the Latino community. They take us into account,” said Esparza.
With these newfound relationships, ArtMarban and Sonador Promotions hope to continue their momentum. For them, reinvesting in the community holds immense significance, as it is the place they and countless others call home — a place where their families were raised. Though bull riding is the main attraction, Ezparza and Marban make it clear that their goal is to entertain all audiences and make their jaripeo a family-friendly event. Dancing, food and live music are all just as planned out as the bull riding, so that there are many things happening during the event.
“I invite people to take a day and enjoy time with your family. […] and above all, have fun because these things don’t come often” Esparza concluded.
The final two jaripeos of the season have been moved to the Garfield County Fairgrounds in Rifle due to concerns by the neighbors about traffic and noise. The next one is on Aug. 20. Esparza and Marban promise it will be their best one yet. Find more information on ArtMarban and Sonador Promotions’s respective Facebook pages.
Photo by Elvis Estrada