Denver Rustlers meet again, head to State Fair in Pueblo

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne William mingled with fellow Denver Rustlers this morning in Greenwood Village before heading to the State Fair in Pueblo. From left to right, Rep. Dominque Jackson, D-Aurora, Williams, lobbyist Peggi O’Keefe and Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield. (SOS photo)

Few organizations bring folks from across the aisle together as much as the Denver Rustlers, a group of business, civic and political leaders who work to help the Colorado State Fair and the rural kids who show their animals there.

The Denver Rustlers mingled this morning in Greenwood Village before boarding three buses headed south to Pueblo.

State Sen. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, and his 2-year-old daughter Cora, at the Denver Rustlers event. (SOS photo)

“I’m always honored to spend the day with these people and see the young 4-H’ers and their animals at the fair,” said Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

“This is a proud Colorado tradition that brings people together from across the state.”

The event began at the Tavern Tech Center with lawmakers and lobbyists, City council members and congress members and more. The Rustlers wear distinctive shirts from Rockmount Ranch, courtesy of Mizel’s firm, MDC Holdings/Richmond American Homes Foundation, and straw cowboy hats donated by the Koncilja law firm.

“Sure, people get a little nervous putting that shirt on the first time, but this is one of the great bipartisan days of the year,” said Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield. “It’s great to invest in our young people, and it’s just as great to spend a day with people from all parties enjoying each other’s company with no political pressure at all.”

Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, and Secretary of State Wayne Williams at the Denver Rustlers event. (SOS photo)

Among those at the event today were four statewide elected officials: Gov. John Hickenlooper, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Williams.

Stapleton is the GOP nominee for governor. His Democratic opponent, Congressman Jared Polis, attended the Rustlers as did three other members of Congress: Mike Coffman of Aurora, Scott Tipton of Cortez and Ken Buck of Greeley.

Also present was Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, his chief of staff Alan Salazar, their new communications employee, former Denver 7 reporter Theresa Marchetta, and various members of the Denver City Council.

Denver Rustlers began 34 years ago, when an economic downturn threatened to shut down the Junior Livestock Sale at the State Fair. Since then, the Rustlers have raised more than $3 million to buy the animals. From the Rustlers website:

Xcel Energy had a presence today at the Denver Rustlers event. Hollie Velasquez-Horvath, left, is the community elections director, and Alice Jackson, right, is the president. (SOS photo)

The Denver Rustlers began 34 years ago during an economic downturn, when a lack of bidding threatened to shut down the Junior Livestock Sale at the State Fair.

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.

After two decades of courageous leadership, Pueblo native Frances Koncilja passed the reins of the Denver Rustlers to Joshua Hanfling in 2016. Hanfling brings almost three decades of experience in business and philanthropy to his new role and will continue Koncilja’s great work on behalf of the Rustlers.

Westminster City Council member Emma Pinter, Josh Hanfling with Sewald Hanfling Public Affairs, and Phil Weiser, Democratic nominee for attorney general. (SOS photo)

Hanfling will work alongside Laura Teal, Chief of Staff to Larry A. Mizel to plan and execute the Denver Rustlers in a manner honoring the work of so many great Colorado philanthropists who continue to support 4-H and Future Farmers of America through this endeavor.

Teal said that nearly 300 people attended today’s event.