The 108th fair and rodeo is happening now, this week — July 15-23 — in San Miguel County at the fairgrounds in Norwood, and that means honoring many of the area’s old western traditions. At the same time, it means continuing new traditions as well.
In a finale, this Sunday, on July 23 at 9:30 a.m., a cowboy church service and breakfast happens at Pig Palace, the enclosed outdoor area outside the event center at the San Miguel County Fairgrounds.
Sponsored by Norwood Christian Church the last four years, the event service wraps up fair and rodeo week, and in a thankful and reverent way. Cowboy church, though a newer addition to the fair and rodeo, has become a popular one the last few years.
“I am excited for this event, because it gives the local churches an opportunity to come together,” said Pastor John Dotson of Norwood Christian Church. “It also gives those who are participating in our rodeo and away from their home church an opportunity to attend church on Sunday.”
Dotson said all are welcome to show up in their western wear. Dress is casual.
Those from surrounding churches are invited to come in and celebrate a joint service together. That includes members and visitors of Trailhead Church, Christ in FOCUS Church, San Miguel Basin Fellowship, New Hope Church, Telluride Christian Fellowship and others. Dotson said all churches are invited, regardless of denomination; all are welcome to come together.
First, a free breakfast takes place. Eggs, sausages, pancakes, coffee and juice will be served to those in attendance.
Afterward, Dr. Rick Burton, a visiting pastor who hails from the Denver area and now lives in Gunnison, will lead a service with music and a message. Burton has been working in ministry for 40 years. He is also a firefighter, skier and counselor, having worked at Ground Zero in New York City, after 9/11.
Dotson said Burton, who also plays guitar, was the guest pastor at last year’s cowboy church service , and the community enjoyed his presence, music and leadership. Because of that, Norwood Christian Church has invited Burton to return to Norwood.
Dotson said cowboy church services are quite common throughout the American West. For those that live a western lifestyle, cowboy church is a way for folks to celebrate their faith and heritage, often on site at horse and rodeo event settings.
Dotson said he hopes for a large turnout and for the Norwood community, especially those that may not even attend a church, to come out for cowboy church. And, as the Garth Brooks song says, they can “show up in boots.”
And, afterward, all are invited to experience real, live rodeo. The last day of the annual rodeo happens Sunday, with pro rodeo cowboys, roping, speed events, kids opportunities, food and more.
Anyone who needs more information on cowboy church or who has questions should call Dotson at 327-0201 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Barton and his work, see the website: rickbartonministries.com.