Stage set for NFR 2023 Open powered by RAM in Colorado Springs, Colo.

More than 200 of the top rodeo contestants from each of the 12 U.S. and Canadian Circuits, plus national champions from Mexico will converge on Colorado Springs, Colo., July 11 for the 2023 NFR Open powered by RAM.

The NFR Open at the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo will kick off Tuesday night and run through July 15. It will be one of the biggest rodeos of the ProRodeo season with $1 million in payouts to contestants, livestock and other PRCA members.

Saddle bronc rider Kade Bruno will be back in the arena to defend his National Circuit Finals Rodeo Championship from a year ago. The Challis, Idaho, cowboy currently sits fourth in the PRCA | RAM World Standings. He’ll be looking for another big midseason boost as he returns to the Norris Penrose Event Center.

“The mindset stays the same and of course you don’t go anywhere to finish second,” Bruno said. “This year it would be pretty cool to go back-to-back. This is one of my favorite rodeos, even the last year (2021) they had it in (Kissimmee) Florida, I had a lot of success there. It has been one of my favorite rodeos.”

And his mentality won’t change headed into this year’s rodeo.

“The mindset stays the same,” he said. “Just keep the hammer down and just have fun and hope that I draw well.”

The rodeo format will consist of seven performances, with matinee afternoon performances on Friday and Saturday. The top eight contestants and teams from the two rounds will advance to the Gold Buckle Round on Saturday night.

Three-time National Circuit Finals Rodeo Champion Heeler (2015, 2017, 2021) Buddy Hawkins II has won a title every year he’s competed in the event for the Prairie Circuit and hopes 2023 will bring a similar fortune.

“This event has been huge for my ProRodeo career, so it’s always a nice one to win,” he said. “This event (the NFR Open) is really hard to qualify for in most circuits, especially in team roping, because there are so many good team ropers out there. This rodeo is second only to the NFR for us as far as importance goes.”

Hawkins has made five trips to Las Vegas for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He said when it comes to putting together his schedule at the beginning of the season, it always involves circuit rodeos because of the impact they can have on a cowboy’s season.

“It’s always been an important part of my career,” he said. “I’ve put a very honest effort into qualifying for this event basically all 10 years that I’ve rodeoed. I plan on doing it for years to come. It can really make a difference.”

All seven performances of the NFR Open will be broadcast live on The Cowboy Channel and stream on the PRCA on The Cowboy Channel Plus App, July 11-15. In conjunction with the rodeo, the 2023 ProRodeo Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held in Colorado Springs, on July 15 at 10 a.m (MT).

courtesy of the PRCA

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