It was mid-June, 1883 when an argument in a general store in the little west Texas town of Pecos waxed warm. Several cattleman and cowboys were debating as to who was the fastest roper and best bronc rider in that section of the country. It had grown customary to hold an impromptu riding and roping contest at the close of each roundup to settle such arguments and wagers but these had only taken in four or five ranches of a section, so out of the general store argument came a suggestion to hold a big riding and roping contest on the afternoon of July 4th and to give prizes to the winners. This riding and roping contest was a huge success. There was no fenced-in area, no chutes or catch pens, and only two events, bronc riding and steer roping. First prize for steer roping was $25.00 and second prize was $15.00. Other such contests were held in various parts of the country but it remained for Prescott, Arizona to stage the first real American Rodeo where cash prizes were awarded to the winning contestants and an admission fee charged the spectators. This rodeo held July 4th, 1888 was really the start of cowboy sports as a contest and box office attraction. Since that time rodeo has progressed until now it is considered one of the biggest of American sports with nearly $2,000,000.00 in cash prizes each year and several million spectators.
The last frontier of the once – wild west. It was born on a bet, and bred of the same circumstances of history that created the sin-cities of Dodge and Abilene. In recent years, it’s become a Cracker sport in glamorous Florida. It began shortly after Texans came home from the Civil War, to find that their longhorn herds had multiplied unchecked. Southern cattle markets, already depressed by the collapse of the confederacy, were soon glutted. So the Texans turned their herds to the north and to the west, driving them across the plains, first to better markets, then to the watering railheads at Abilene and Wichita and Dodge, later to the greener pastures that stretched across the great plains clear to the Canadian line. The trail drivers were tough men and independent, who lived in the saddle and slept under the open sky. They sat their mounts like centaurs, the two-animal and man-becoming one. They drove the sword-armed cattle through drought and dust and blizzard, across some of the wildest country man has pioneered. They knew their cow critters as a butcher knows his knives. They carried guns-to kill coyotes and other range varmints. But they worked with a rope on a horse.
Occasionally they’d hit a trail town, where they blew off enough steam, in that brief moment of history, to keep four generations of fiction writers busy ever since. But town, in the long monotony of their lives, was an unexpected pleasure; a binge of a few days, perhaps, in every year. They crossed the plains seeking better land or more freedom. They crossed the mountains seeking gold. Their driving urges, the rugged individualism, and the raw, personal courage is alive today. The cowboy still rides the far reaches of the west, still stakes his life to win his living because he prefers that to the creeping restrictions that go with the fringe benefits of a steady job. The rodeo cowboy earns no salary, draws no expense allowance, and has no guaranteed annual wage. His only income is what he can win in a fiercely competitive sport, where he must win over not only the cowboys he competes against but the rank animals he competes on. And he must pay for this privilege-entry fees that run up to $100 per event per rodeo.
The competing cowboy can win more in a minute than most men earn in a month. But he can be killed or crippled for life by the wild flick of a hoof or the thrust of a horn-and he knows it.
If you’re not, stick to the Rodeo pronunciation and be right. No matter WHAT you call it, WELCOME to the 67th Annual Time Powers Rodeo! You’re attending a sports contest that originated in the United States. The frontier cowboys started the whole thing in an effort to determine who was the best at their jobs and as a sport and amusement that was akin to their daily lives. Local ranch hands who excelled began challenging the champs from nearby ranches and so on until State and National champions were crowned! Now we have rodeos from Maine to Mexico, so rough and tough they would scare the “punchers” of the “old west.”
The cowboy performer’s salary is paid according to his ability to win purses and prizes. He travels at his own expense, ropes and rides according to drastic rules.
It all results in two swell days of fun for you at the 67th Annual Timer Power’s PRCA Rodeo, so hold on to your hats, take a firm grip on your seats, and enjoy it!