The principal organizers and managers of the group don’t have official job titles and they’re 100 percent unpaid. The organization’s annual signature event doesn’t even have a proper name. And aren’t rustlers supposed to be bad-guy livestock thieves? Denver Rustlers defy convention on every front in a good way, existing solely to help hard-working Future Farmers of America and 4-H youth earn money for college by bidding on showcase animals at the Junior Livestock Sale at the Colorado State Fair.

Denver Rustlers at the breakfast reception

The premise is simple: Bidders comprised of prominent business leaders and elected officials meet in Denver for breakfast, mix and mingle, board buses to Pueblo and open their wallets at the sale. And in addition to getting the satisfaction that comes from supporting some great kids, they have a lot of fun along the way.

On Tuesday, Aug. 30, members met at Shanahan’s Steakhouse wearing a traditional cowboy hat and the group’s signature Rockmount Ranch Wear shirt to get in a Denver Rustlers frame of mind for the 100-mile trip to Pueblo. After enjoying a brunch buffet, a short program included remarks both serious and light-hearted from: Josh Hanfling, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Gov. Jared Polis, Larry Mizel, Tim Schultz and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

Denver Rustlers principals (l to r): Larry Mizel, Josh Hanfling, Katie Kramer and Tim Schultz

The Denver Rustlers began 38 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 Representative Tom Farley, 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 youths could continue to participate and raise money for their future education. The three rallied their friends and colleagues to invest in these kids by supporting their livestock sale.

Lisa Roy and Rick Garcia

After two decades of courageous leadership, in 2016 Pueblo native Frances Koncilja passed the reins of the Denver Rustlers to Josh Hanfling. Hanfling brings almost three decades of experience in business and philanthropy to this role and continues Koncilja’s great work on behalf of the Rustlers. Hanfling works alongside Laura Teal, Chief of Staff to Larry A. Mizel, to plan and execute the Denver Rustlers in a manner honoring the work of the many great Coloradoan philanthropists who continue to support 4-H and FFA. Learn more at: To see coverage at the State Fair by photojournalist Pam Cress, go to: .

Blacktie Colorado
Blacktie Colorado