- History was made on July 4, 1888, in Prescott when the sport of professional rodeo became an organized event that today is a multi-million-dollar industry.
The date was May of 1888, when the town of Prescott began planning a 4th of July celebration that had been ongoing for several years. Festivities included a parade, band concerts and horse races. Although those were fun events, something was missing, according to the planning committee.
The committee wanted to draw local miners and cowboys to town, since the two major industries at the time were mining and ranching, so they added hard-rock drilling contests, fire hose competitions, marching drills and cavalry horse units from nearby Fort Whipple.
While the celebration was fun, something was still missing and they had observed at times cowboys competing against each other on outlying ranches in bronco riding and cattle-roping contests. The action was just what was missing from the festivities, so they decided to include such events.
In order to make rodeo official, an organized set of rules needed to be created. Rules that were established for this event are still used at rodeo across the country today!
The rules included: a committee would organize and run the rodeo; cowboys had to be invited to compete; admission would be charged; prizes were given; and documentation of events and results would be provided. The events included bronco riding (bronc riding), steer roping and tying (tie-down roping) and cow pony races. Cash prizes were offered and admission was charged for attendees; hence, professional rodeo was created!
Today, the World’s Oldest Rodeo is 130 years old and to honor that major milestone, Prescott Frontier Days, Inc. celebrates the many rodeo legends that have lived among us, or still do today. The idea behind the theme for the rodeo this year “Legends Live Among Us” is to recognize the many talented and accomplished rodeo legends that either started their rodeo career in Prescott, or called Prescott home. Prescott is home to many accomplished professional cowboys and cowgirls, so the opportunity seemed appropriate and timely to honor that piece of indisputable history.
Here are some rodeo legends that either grew up in Prescott, live here today or had a rodeo career begin at the World’s Oldest Rodeo (and are the faces you see on the current advertising outlets): JC Trujillo: 1981 World-Champion Bareback Rider, Inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1994 and the General Manager of Prescott Frontier Days, hometown Prescott; Mike Stuart 1926 World-Champion Bronc Rider, Inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1979, hometown Prescott; George Richards, 1978 World-Champion Team Roper, hometown Dewey,; Brad Smith, 1978 World-Champion Team Roper, hometown Prescott; Chuck Sheppard, World-Champion Team Roper 1946, Inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2000, hometown Prescott; and Asbury Schell 1937, 1939 & 1952 World Champion, Inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2004, hometown Cottonwood.
The World’s Oldest Rodeo is known as one of the top 40 best rodeos in the United States and is a favorite among contestants. The nostalgic and historic atmosphere draws top athletes every year in the sport of professional rodeo. Good events are only as good as the people who run it and the World’s Oldest Rodeo brings the most talented and notable contract personnel in the sport of rodeo. Randy Corley, inductee (2017) into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, has been the rodeo announcer for over 25 years and the late Harry Vold of the Harry Vold Rodeo Company (stock contractor) are just a few great examples of the type of quality this Rodeo offers.
There are eight performances of world-class rodeo, a rodeo parade (that typically draws over 45,000 people to downtown Prescott), a rodeo dance, arts and crafts show around the Courthouse Plaza, cowboy church, a kiddie parade and Prescott’s most anticipated event of the year!
With the excitement that comes with being 130 years old, it seems totally appropriate to rally around the many dedicated, loyal and wonderful supporters of the World’s Oldest Rodeo by offering a way to be involved with their stories, photos and experiences with this amazing event.
For the first time ever, many contests and prizes are offered now through June 16 through Facebook (Facebook.com/worldsoldestrodeo), Instagram (Instagram.com/worldsoldestrodeo), the mobile app (Rodeo1888) on iTunes and Google Play and at www.worldsoldestrodeo.com . Tickets and information are available on the website or by calling the ticket hotline at 928-445-4320. See you at the R-O-D-E-O! QCBN
By Donna Werking