Sunday, July 3, 2011

America's First Rodeo, 18??

From The New York Times (1989): "THE question seems simple enough: who put on America's first rodeo?  But at least a century after the fact, the issue has been transformed into one of America's great bragging wars.  No one may ever know for sure which dusty Western cattle town really had the first rodeo, but rodeo's centennial has had at least three different celebrations in the last few years, each with its own claim to frontier immortality.  First came Pecos, Tex., in the bleak, arid reaches of West Texas, which in 1983 celebrated the 100th birthday of ''The World's First [1883] Rodeo.''  Some considered Pecos's claim a bit suspect because its West of the Pecos Rodeo had celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1979, but we'll get back to that.  The great centennial event in Pecos had barely passed into memory when Payson, Ariz., the next year celebrated the centennial of the nation's ''oldest [1884] annual continuous rodeo,'' replete with fanfare, commemorative 100th anniversary belt buckles and much reminiscing.  Not to be outdone, Prescott last year marked the 100th anniversary of the [1888] Prescott Frontier Days.  Making up with heavy ammunition what it lacked in timing, Prescott provided a 200-page book by Danny Freeman documenting its claim and took out a trademark for its designation as ''The World's Oldest Rodeo.''  Then again, the great debate between Pecos, Payson and Prescott may be moot because of claims that little-noticed cowboy contests in towns ranging from Santa Fe, N.M., to Deer Trail, Colo., where little-noticed rodeo centennials may have predated all three.  Hovering around the edges of the debate is the famous Frontier Days Rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyo., which doesn't claim to be first, but ambiguously bills itself as the ''Daddy of Them All.''  Like most issues, this one stays alive for two reasons: pride and money."  And from Wikipedia: "Following the American Civil War, rodeo competitions emerged, with the first held in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 1872.  Prescott, Arizona, claimed the distinction of holding the first professional rodeo, as it charged admission and awarded trophies in 1888."  Having spent some time in Sheridan, Wyoming, my vote goes to that state, however - if we're talkin' ticket-takin' an' big 'ole belt buckles - Prescott has a case.

TODAY'S GOOD NEWS:  The fence fixin' is done.