The World’s Oldest Rodeo in Prescott, AZ

Prescott Arizona is known for hosting The World’s Oldest Rodeo.

My home and one of my art galleries is just minutes from the Prescott Rodeo Grounds.  I drive by the location almost every day. On any given weekend in the Spring and Summer they host some type of Horse event. However, for 10 days in June/July the Rodeo grounds hosts the World’s Oldest Rodeo.  “It’s a deeply rooted tradition in Prescott” says J.C. Trujillo, the General Manager of Frontier Days and Worlds Oldest Rodeo.

worlds oldest rodeo-Prescott horse photographer Jody Miller

Courtesy of Miller Photo and Prescott Rodeo

According to the Rodeo website, “July 4, 1888, became the birthday of professional rodeo when a group of Prescott, Arizona, merchants and professional businessmen organized the first formalized “cowboy tournament” and offered cash prizes.”  The Prescott Rodeo was recently honored by True West Magazine as the best Historic Western Rodeo for 2017.  As I had mentioned last summer in a previous post about the rodeo, I can’t say the actual act of rodeo-ing is one I like to photograph.  I much prefer all the happenings behind the scenes and the viewers fascination and love for horses, cowboys and cowgirls. 


What’s in The Worlds Oldest Rodeo.

Today’s rodeo performances are based on the activities found on early ranches dating back to the 1700s, and included roping, horse breaking, riding, herding and branding.  All eight performances host the same events and specialty acts.  Now those activities have expanded to competing in barrel racing, bronco and bull riding, roping and sorting.  “Sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy’s Association (PRCA), the World’s Oldest Rodeo consists of both roughstock, or judged events (bareback, saddle bronc and bull riding) and timed events (steer wrestling, tie-down and team roping, and barrel racing) during each performance.  Each cowboy and cowgirl competes for either the best time or the highest score to ultimately win cash prizes and buckles. ” 

Who’s the best rodeo competitor?

The Rodeo Cowboys Association was formed in 1945 and then changed their name to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 1975.  The PRCA remains the largest sanctioning body of rodeo in the United States and

worlds oldest rodeo-prescott arizona horse photographer Jody Miller

Courtesy of Miller Photo and Prescott Rodeo

Canada. The National Finals Rodeo, the culmination of the PRCA’s rodeo year, is held each year in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Over 100 years ago these rodeo shows were partly theater and partly competition and were focused on making money and glamorizing and preserving the disappearing American frontier.  The Worlds Oldest Rodeo remains partly theater and partly competition but now draws professional athletes from around the world to compete for big prize money.  It also draws huge crowds to watch and cheer for their favorite cowboy or cowgirl.  The Prescott Rodeo is listed on Wranglers Million Dollar Tour -Silver Edition.  The Tour Rodeos are designated Gold or Silver Tour Rodeos based on the committee added purse money per event.

There’s money in the Worlds Oldest Rodeo!

Check out this video from Cronkite News recorded 2016.

  If you take a look around the rodeo grounds at the banners or read the rodeo brochure or promos, you will see that the worlds oldest rodeo draws big sponsorship money.  Many rodeo sponsors are local Prescott area companies like Barrett Propane, Hassayampa Inn, many local radio stations, the local Daily Courier Newspaper and several local restaurants are on the list.  Big names like Wrangler, Jack Daniels, Coors, OneAZ Bank, Country Bank and Pepsi! 

For local Prescott businesses, the 10 days of Rodeo time in June and July are the top money making days of the year.  As one of the owners of Arts Prescott Gallery on Whiskey Row, I can tell you it certainly is prime selling time for my western art and horse photos.  So, if you’re in town for the worlds oldest rodeo, be sure and stop in to get your own piece of cowboy art.

worlds oldest rodeo-prescott horse photographer Jody Miller

Bringing ’em Home, USA by Jody L. Miller

Thanks to Dale Miller and the Prescott Rodeo for the two courtesy photos-Dale and his wife Carol are Rodeo Photographers and we are not related.

Jody Miller is a professional photographer specializing in Horse Photography, Equine Photography, and Equestrian photography.  Her work can be viewed online here in her gallery section, and she is also featured at these Arizona Galleries:  Arts Prescott Gallery, Sedona’s Village Gallery , Easy Street Galleria in Carefree and Dragonfly Arts in Cottonwood.

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