There's no wintertime paradise quite like Arizona—and that's a fact of which many a roper has taken note. Whether they got there early in life or after retirement, Arizona's snowbirds know how to have a good time in and out of the arena, and they thrive in the roping-rich environment with its perfect weather, daily jackpots, ample dining options and great company.
Buster Boyd, 76
Eagle Point, Oregon
"In 1994, I won a saddle at the US Finals in Guthrie, Oklahoma. I was chasing those ropings, and I talked to a lot of people who'd gone to Arizona. We went down there for a US roping in February of 1995. We met a man and ended up staying with him. I had a living quarters, and we stayed there for 13 years. I'm a retired logger, so I missed one year. That whole year up here, it rained and snowed on me all winter. We were there three weeks, three months, six months, then I built a house in 2008 in Morristown and then they built all those arenas. It seems like just yesterday. The next year, I put up some corrals, and then better corrals, and we've been going ever since. I've had really great years, and some not great years. I won the Sunshine Classic a couple of years ago, and the Title Fights last year. I've roped for 60 years, and most kids today don't know they even had roping 60 years ago. We're blessed to be able to go do it. We could get away and do it, and some years it was really tight."
Marvin Kleinbert, 68
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
"I started going about 12 or 14 years ago, as much time as I could afford off work. I'm an auctioneer, and I work for an oil and gas company on a contract basis. I do jobs in Mexico and Colombia. The last five years, I've been a regular six months out of the year. I go to rope and enjoy the warm weather. I'm by myself mostly, and I bought a place in Cave Creek. I have friends and family there throughout the winter. We have ropers stay with us for two or three weeks, and they have a place to stay and put their horses."
Floyd Marshall, 78
"Back in 2000, I always wanted to come to Arizona. I was a residential home builder and built houses in Bridge Creek, Oklahoma, where I still live. I'd heard from my friends how great it was. So, in 2000, I went to a USTRC roping in Scottsdale. At that lime, we had like 950 teams in the roping I was in, and I didn't know anyone, so I drew my partners. My partner was Rick Ellis, and we ended up placing second in that roping. I came back the next year and stayed two weeks and roped in the same roping. And the third year, we came back, and at the end of the third week, I bought a house. That was 2002, and I've been going back since then. At that time, it was all about roping. I could go every day if I wanted to and I enjoy roping so much, it was my bread and butter. I made so many friends from all over the world who came for the same reason. I have friends everywhere. I could leave my home in Oklahoma and travel west and north and have a place to stay every night. That makes it pretty special to me."
Randy Baker, 58
New Town, North Dakota
"I have a brother who lives in Cave Creek, and I had always heard of the numerous ropings and the weather. I'm born and raised in North Dakota but I've never been one to like winter. I like being able to rope through the winter months and ... [Arizona] is an awesome place. I'm retired, but I worked for federal programs for the three affiliated tribes in North Dakota. And I ranched, and I'm kind of retired from that now, too."
Rick Steed, 66
"My wife and I have been going for the last four years. We stay in Cave Creek. It's more friendly for the women to go shopping instead of just sitting at dirty arenas. We go from the 201" of November to April. We rope every day. We have a practice arena at the house. I am a retired rancher, and I worked 35 years in the aerospace industry building space shuttle motors. I wish I had retired 20 years earlier."
Shelly Moore, 61
Mount Vernon, Missouri
"We've gone the last two winters. We bought a house in 2018, and we just go three days a week. We fly out on Tuesday, rope Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Once in a while we stay until Saturday or Sunday. My husband, Jack, is in the feed lot business, so he has sales he has to be in Joplin for every Monday. We live one street over from Dynamite, and we ride through our back fence and we're there. We go to Rancho Rio, too, as our second favorite. We go to a couple other places in Wickenburg, but we love Dynamite. We both have partners we rope with a lot, who are always there. Jack and I both have sons who team rope, and they've been out there several times with us. We've made so many friends out there, and the same people we see in the winter, we rope with in Cheyenne and Jackson Hole for the World Series."