Denver Rustlers: A Colorado tradition

Gathered for today’s Denver Rustler’s event: Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, Steve Weil of Rockmount Ranch, and Wes Friednash and Josh Hanfling, who both help oversee the event. (SOS photo)

For 33 years now, Colorado’s business, civil and political leaders have worked together to make Denver Rustlers the guardian angel of both the Colorado State Fair and the rural kids who show their animals at the event.

Denver City Councilwoman Kendra Black and Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson. (SOS photo)

The Rustlers boarded three large buses today and headed south to Pueblo, where its pool of money will be used to bid on sheep, cattle and more during the Junior Livestock Sale.

“It’s one of my favorite events,” said Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who works in Denver and commutes from Colorado Springs. “It’s always nice to get outside of the metro area and visit the rest of the state.”

The event begins in Greenwood Village with an early lunch at Del Frisco’s (home of the most incredible mini corn dogs you will ever eat).

It attracts current and former governors (John Hickenlooper and Bill Ritter, respectively), current and former agricultural commissioners (Don Brown and Don Ament, respectively); members of Congress and the General Assembly, county commissioners, city council members and more.

Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway and former state agricultural secretary Don Ament at the Denver Rustlers lunch today at Del Frisco’s. (SOS photo)

Hickenlooper said the event is good not only for Pueblo and the State Fair, but also for the rest of the state.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock pointed out that he had just set up a lunch date with Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway and others in Greeley.

“I just wanted to show you how this event brings us together and how Republicans, Democrats and rural and urban come together,” Hancock said.

Denver Rustlers began 33 years ago, when an economic downturn threatened to shut down the Junior Livestock Sale at the State Fair.

From the Denver Rustlers website: “At the urging of the late Tom Farley (a Pueblo native and former legislator, who at the time, served on the board of Colorado State University), Tim Schultz (then Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture), approached Dick and Eddie Robinson, as well as Larry A. Mizel, asking them to step in and make sure the hardworking 4-H and FFA exhibitors could continue to participate and raise money for their futures. The three rallied their friends and colleagues to invest in these terrific kids’ futures by supporting the livestock sale.”

Since then, Denver Rustlers has raised around $3 million to buy the animals.

“You’re going to meet some great kids,” Schultz said today when he addressed the Rustlers.

The Rustlers wear distinctive shirts from Rockmount Ranch, courtesy of Mizel’s firm, MDC Holdings/RichmondAmerican Homes Foundation, and straw cowboy hats donated by the Koncilja law firm.

Republicans Pete Coors and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner at today’s Denver Rustlers event. (SOS photo)

Pueblo native Frances Koncilja oversaw the event for 17 years before handing it off to political consultant Josh Hanfling,  who with R.D. Sewald operates Sewald Hanfling Public Affairs, an influential public relations and lobbying firm in Denver.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and former U.S. Senate candidate Pete Coors were conspicuously out of uniform today.

Asked if it was true that his wife Marilyn gave the shirt away, Coors said he didn’t want to throw her under the bus but the garb was in the closet before they moved to Denver and now it isn’t. Gardner said he was in Sandusky, Ohio — setting for the immortal “Tommy Boy” — over the weekend for a staffer’s wedding, and then he headed straight to Denver. He forgot to bring the shirt along, and didn’t have time to go to Yuma to pick it up.

Cowboys and cowgirls mingle at the Denver Rustlers: Rep. Susan Lontine of Denver, Secretary of State Wayne Williams, Sen. Larry Crowder of Alamosa, and Denver Elections director Amber McReynolds. (SOS photo)