The History of Rodeo: Prescott Edition

Prescott, Arizona is home to the oldest rodeo in U.S. history. This year was the 130th annual World’s Oldest Rodeo at the Prescott Rodeo Grounds. The rodeo takes place over the July 4th holiday and this year it took place from June 28 to July 4.  This rodeo is part of the Prescott Frontier Days where eight incredible events are performed for the audience each year. These events include bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, and steer roping.

The Prescott Rodeo has been taking place since July 4, 1888. It started as a cowboy tournament type event with cash prizes. These cowboy tournaments were planned and promoted by local merchants, just like other rodeo associations are carried out today. The U.S. version of rodeo comes from Spanish traditions of the vaquero, which means cowboy. Rodeo itself is also a Spanish word meaning “to round up”. The word rodeo wasn’t used to describe this type of event until 1924 in Prescott.

Rodeo has also become a sport of professional athletes in today’s society. Rodeo associations such as the Professional Bull Riders, National Finals Rodeo, and growing in popularity every year. These events draw in huge crowds.

The Prescott Frontier Days has been making quite the name for itself and in July of 2008 it was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This rodeo is one of sixteen rodeos to ever have this honor. It brings around 27,000 people each year and generates an economic boost for the surrounding communities. The Prescott Frontier Days also donates thousands of dollars to major organizations.

The World’s Oldest Rodeo is truly a significant piece of history in the rodeo world.

-Courtney Hall

Photo Courtesy of Prescotte eNews & James Fain.