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Celebrating the History of the American Rodeo

Posted by UC Social on October 7, 2019

Rodeos are a favorite pastime for many Americans growing up. While you might think of them just being in rural areas of the country, many are actually held in larger cities and draw in millions of visitors each year.

Rodeos have actually been around for hundreds of years for American ranchers.

While it’s hard to pinpoint when exactly the very first rodeo happened in the U.S., many places claim hosting a rodeo as early as the mid-1800’s. The earliest recorded rodeos happened in 1883 in Pecos, Texas, and Prescott, Arizona, in 1888. It was also when the American Cowboy began as Anglo-American settlers moved into Texas and other areas of the Southwest. “Rodeo” is actually a Spanish word that means roundup.

By the late 1800s, rodeo had become a spectator event and was held in many U.S. towns from the Southwest to the Midwest.

Many were held during social occasions or holiday gathering where cowboys would showcase riding and roping skills and challenge cowboys from other ranches. These “wild-west shows,” made famous by cowboys like Buffalo Bill, eventually made their way east. The rodeos incorporated prizes, rules for competition and admission fees to get in. The late 1800s also introduced steer riding, which is now what we have today in bull riding.

By the 1920s, rodeo became a national event with month-long rodeos in New York City.

The early 1900s also marked the beginning of rodeos internationally with shows in England and Africa. Rodeos also added another event, calf roping. But it wasn’t until 1929 when the Rodeo Association of America was formed by several rodeo committees. This made the rodeo an official event. The organization helped standardize rules, establish a point system, monitor judges and establish fairness when advertising and handing out prizes. Since then, many organizations have formed and developed to help regulate the industry.

Today, rodeos are held across the world and consist of events like calf roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing and bull riding.

The largest is in Cheyenne, Wyo., which is considered the “Daddy of ‘em All.” It is nine days long and is the largest outdoor rodeo and Western festival.

United Country Real Estate celebrates rodeos and ranchers all over the United States as the leader in ranch land sales since 1925. If you want to learn more about ranch land or see all available properties for sale nationwide, visit


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