On Tuesday during the Colorado State Fair Ranch Rodeo, two cowboys from the Arkansas Valley community were honored by their family, friends, and a large crowd of fair spectators.
Before the ranch rodeo performance, Matt Buhr of Ordway, Colorado, was remembered during a heartfelt western tribute.
Matt's horse, adorned with his chaps and gear, was led in the arena by his close friend and ranch rodeo judge Curt McCuistion. A picture of Matt appeared on the big screen as thousands of people bowed their heads in a moment of silence.
According to McCuistion, Matt judged the annual rodeo for the last five years. The Buhr family was in attendance, and his brother Dan judged the competition in Matt's stead.
"It was an honor being able to do this for my buddy," says McCuistion. "It was also an honor judging with Matt's brother Dan who stepped up and did a tremendous job."
At the conclusion of the ranch rodeo, the Yancie McCuistion Memorial Bronc Riding was held in memory of Yancie McCuistion of La Junta, Colorado.
Ten cowboys went head-to-head with broncs from the legendary Vold Rodeo Company in honor of Yancie.
Gatlenn Huddleston of Karval walked away the Yancie McCuistion Memorial Bronc Riding Champion, and according to him, it's Yancie's legacy as a top hand that fueled his fire to win.
"Yancie was a great kid. He tried hard at everything he did, which makes me want to try my hardest at anything that's associated with his name," says Gatlenn.
"It was a special night to honor a good son, a good grandson, and a good cowboy. All the bronc riders showed up and gave their all, and I'd like to thank Kirsten Vold for bringing a good set of broncs," says Yancie's dad Curt.
Twenty-one teams made up the Colorado State Fair Ranch Rodeo; the events were in a scrambled format and included Penning, Doctoring, Trailer Loading, and Mugging.
Only three seconds and three milliseconds separated the first through fourth place teams.
Bowling Cattle Company (Jesse Jolly, Dustin Bowling, Ryon Sallee, and Luke Sharon) walked away with top honors. The team clocked an impressive time of 129.4.
The Hippies and The Cowboys followed closely behind to clinch the number two spot; Kelley Trucking and Last Chance Cowboys rounded out the top four.
Jesse Crowder was named the Top Hand, and Levi Leonard's horse claimed the Top Horse award.
Fans in attendance watched more than immense cowboy talent; they also got a glimpse of the comradery, compassion, and respect that embodies the western culture.
The evening was especially emotional for Curt McCuistion who honored both his friend and his son; he describes it as "a hard night, but a good night."