The Tucson Rodeo will be here soon. I thought it would be fun to look at the history of this local institution.
The very first Tucson Rodeo was held in 1925 during the era of Prohibition. Tucson was a pretty wild, hard drinkin’ cowboy town, so a force of federal officials made the decision to “clean up” the city prior to the rodeo. They captured 25 stills, and an estimated 3000 gallons of moonshine was destroyed. Yep, moonshine in Tucson!
In 1925, a Mr. Leighton Kramer and the Arizona Polo Association created La Fiesta de los Vaqueros and the Tucson Mid-Winter Rodeo and Parade. The event would give visitors a taste of cowboy range work and glamorize Tucson’s Wild West notoriety. Without the Wild West drinking of course!
Fun fact: Prizes at the 1925 Rodeo Parade included a 750-lb. block of ice, 100 lbs. of potatoes and a “Big Cactus” ham.
Tourists, cowboys and cowgirls, and local high society members all enjoyed the very first Tucson Rodeo.
And thousands of spectators crowded the downtown parade route.
The first Tucson Rodeo was held at Kramer Field, (yes, that Mr. Kramer!), now a neighborhood called Catalina Vista, east of Campbell Boulevard between Grant and Elm Streets.
After a few years the rodeo was moved to the abandoned municipal airport field at South 6th Avenue and Irvington Road.
The rodeo has evolved to where the prizes are bigger and the crowds are bigger.
Cowgirls compete in barrel racing and you’ll usually see a pretty girl galloping around with an American flag.
Sometimes you are witness to kindness between creatures. At the rodeo you see it all!
The 2017 Tucson Rodeo is February 18-26 at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds, 4823 S. 6th Ave.
So get out your vintage cowboy boots. Your vintage janglin’ spurs. Your cowboy hats, shirts and belts and enjoy the rodeo!
Carol Fenn 1-2017