Sp. Fork rodeo be­comes one of na­tion’s best un­der Money’s care

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Fact: There have been 34 con­sec­u­tive sell­outs at the Fi­esta Days Rodeo.

It’s not too sur­pris­ing that a lit­tle boy who prac­ticed his rop­ing on the teeter-tot­ter at his grand­par­ents’ farm would end up be­ing the rodeo direc­tor in Span­ish Fork. It is more than a lit­tle sur­pris­ing that dur­ing his 32 years of in­volve­ment with the rodeo, he has seen it grow to be­come one of the top 40 (out of 720) Pro­fes­sional Rodeo Cow­boy As­so­ci­a­tion (PRCA) events held each year.

Steven Money was born in Span­ish Fork 63 years ago and likely was rid­ing a horse be­fore he was walk­ing. He loved go­ing to the Mon­eys’ farm to rope, ride and breathe in farm life with all its sweat and splen­dor. The young lad was heart­bro­ken when in sec­ond grade he moved to Provo for a cou­ple of years, es­cap­ing to the farm in Span­ish Fork in the sum­mers. So determined was he to re­turn that he asked his prayers “ev­ery night with­out fail” that he could to move back. “I needed farm air and I needed rodeo air,” Money said.

Money re­lated that he en­tered his first rodeo while a sopho­more in high school. “We thought we were cow­boys, but we weren’t. It’s a pretty tough sport to try to learn and con­quer. There was no pro­gram set up that taught you how to ride a buck­ing horse or how to rope. You had to do it on your own,” he said.

Af­ter high school, Money’s in­volve­ment with rodeo in­creased.

“We were gone al­most ev­ery week. We did a lot of calf-rop­ing, team rop­ing. The lo­cal am­a­teur cir­cuit. We started into the horse train­ing busi­ness. I got in­volved in the rid­ing club,” he said.

That in­volve­ment in the rid­ing club lead into Money’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in man­ag­ing the Fi­esta Days Rodeo. In 1984, the rodeo was “just a lit­tle am­a­teur rodeo,” Money said. He told the city manager he wanted to be “big­ger than Salt Lake and Og­den one day.” The re­sponse was, “They put their pants on the same way that we do. Go for it.”

Fact: They haven’t sold a ticket to the rodeo at the fair­grounds in five years. Ev­ery ticket has been sold be­fore the rodeos.

“When I took over, we were a two­day rodeo, and then we went to a three­day and now we’re a four-day. We’re the largest rodeo in the state of Utah, con­tes­tant wise,” Money said with well-de­served pride. “Our ob­jec­tive is we try and put on a good show, an en­joy­able show, and we do a lot of re­search to make sure our qual­ity is there and I think our cit­i­zens en­joy it.”

Putting on a good show is im­por­tant to both the au­di­ence and the cow­boys and Span­ish Fork has earned the rep­u­ta­tion of set­ting the bench­mark for what a good rodeo should be. Out of the top rodeo pro­fes­sion­als that go to the PRCA’s Na­tional Fi­nals Rodeo, Money said they get at least 14 of the top 15 to come to Span­ish Fork. ”The best of the best,” he said.

Money read­ily ad­mits he couldn’t have achieved this suc­cess on his own. “The Di­a­mond Fork Rid­ing Club, they do a ter­rific job, and with­out their membership it would never ever ever work,” he said. Money also cred­its the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the city for the rodeo’s suc­cess by rec­og­niz­ing his pas­sion and get­ting be­hind him on their way “straight to the top.” Also, “With­out all the sup­port from all of our spon­sors, we could not do what we are able to do,” he said. Jok­ingly he re­marks, “My de­gree in BS has well paid off for the city.” On a more se­ri­ous note, he adds, “I think some­body up there is watch­ing over us.”

Fact: Span­ish Fork is one of just nine one-header Cham­pi­ons Chal­lenge lo­ca­tions.

As of 2014, the an­nual Fi­esta Days Rodeo is no longer the only PRCA event in Span­ish Fork. Money and his team have been suc­cess­ful at se­cur­ing a date - May 30 - on the Cham­pi­ons Chal­lenge Rodeo sched­ule, where com­peti­tors vie for $128,000 in prize money. For more in­for­ma­tion and to pur­chase tick­ets to the PRCA Cham­pi­ons Chal­lenge Rodeo or Fi­esta Days Rodeo, go to www.span­ish­fork.org.

Photo by Steve Gray

Kaycee Feild, World Cham­pion and South Utah County res­i­dent, rides at the 2014 Fi­esta Days Rodeo.

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