Sp. Fork rodeo becomes one of nation’s best under Money’s care
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.
Kaycee Feild, World Champion and South Utah County resident, rides at the 2014 Fiesta Days Rodeo.