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Arizona Weekend Adventures – Rodeos!

Arizona Weekend Adventures – Rodeos!

A couple of weeks and ago, Mr. Misadventures and I went to the annual Gold Rush Days in Wickenburg. Besides music, arts, food, and parades, the main events center around the rodeo. 2018 was the 70th year for the event and the first rodeo ever for Mr. Misadventures who happened to love it. Quote: why isn't baseball like this? [I have attempted to get him to love to sport, but it is a struggle!]

Arizona Rodeo - Wickenburg Rodeo Future Cowboys
Future rodeo stars.

Growing up an Army brat I was lucky enough to see rodeos all over the country. And rodeoing is a huge part of Arizona culture, so now that we are living in the greater Phoenix area (and that the hubby approves), we will be going to a lot more! Turns out, there are rodeos taking place all over Arizona throughout the entire year and it is a fun event that you should consider adding to a visit.

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For the novices, rodeos generally cover the following events: tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, bull riding, and barrel racing. Basically, activities that the standard rancher performed back in the good old wild, wild, west days, but then it became a sport. There are categories for men and for women and by age with junior, senior, and I guess “regular!”

Arizona Rodeo - Wickenburg Rodeo

Rodeo History

So there is a little dispute as to where the first actual American rodeo took place. The town of Deer Trail in Colorado seems to have had the earlier rodeo on July 4, 1869. Their evidence being an article written by a reporter in the “Field and Farm” magazine. According to the reporter:

“The area ranches came with their outlaw horses and best cowboys to the “Bronco Bustin’ Contest”. The prize was a suit of clothes which was awarded to the Champion Bronc Buster of the Plains, Emiline Gardenshire of the Milliron Ranch. Emiline rode fifteen minutes on the back of Montana Blizzard, the worst outlaw of the bunch.”

However, Pecos, Texas claims the rodeo held on July 4, 1883, to be the first. Two ranch hands from opposing ranches decided to hold a competition for bragging rights. A location was decided and it happens to be in the same spot that the rodeo currently holds their events. They picked July 4t and the rest is history. In 1929 the rodeo began running annually without interruption.

Prescott, Arizona lays claim to “the World's Oldest Rodeo” taking place in 1888 when merchants and professional businessmen organized the first formalized “cowboy tournament” and offered cash prizes. They were the first to charge admission, so they consider the fact that the event was formalized and commercialized, it was a serious competition. Given the fact that Prescott Frontier Days applied for and received a patent from the U.S. Patent Office declared Prescott as the oldest, they take it seriously!

Payson, Arizona, has a whole different kind of claim, that of the oldest annual continuous running rodeo. They claim to have begun in 1884. Although Prescott claims it was unorganized and not an official rodeo. No problem says, Payson, when the Prescott rodeo went on hiatus from 1941-45 because of World War II, Payson’s took up the cry of World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo which has turned out to be one way that both Arizona towns can stake their claim!

So, whether you believe Deer Trail, Pecos, Prescott or Payson, rodeos have been a part of American culture for over 100 years and these events offer an opportunity to express love for our country. Your cowboy boots will be full of national pride and community spirit!

Arizona Rodeo - Wickenburg Bull Rider

Arizona Annual Rodeo Schedule

Planning a trip to Arizona, there are rodeos! All year round! Plenty of opportunities to include one of the events in your schedule. Especially if you are coming in March for spring training, Scottsdale has a big one, a great addition to your baseball outings!


  • Delbert Days Rodeo > Lake Havasu City
  • Casa Grande Cowboy Days > Casa Grande
  • Yuma Jaycees Silver Spur Rodeo > Yuma


  • La Fiesta de los Vaqueros – The Tucson Rodeo & Parade > Tucson
  • Casa Grande Cowboy Days > Casa Grande
  • Yuma Jaycees Silver Spur Rodeo > Yuma
  • Arizona Gay Rodeo > Laveen Village
  • Gila Bend Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo > Gila Bend
  • Arizona Black Rodeo > Chandler
  • Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo > Apache Junction
  • Gold Rush Days > Wickenburg


  • National Team Roping Finals – Wickenburg
  • Parada Del Sol Rodeo – Scottsdale
  • Roots N’ Boots Queen Creek Pro Rodeo > Queen Creek
  • Cave Creek Rodeo Days > Cave Creek
  • Fiesta Days Pro Rodeo > Buckeye
  • Arizona Black Rodeo > Chandler
Arizona Rodeo - Wickenburg Rodeo bare horseback


  • Willcox West Fest > Wilcox


  • Gary Heart Memorial Spring Rodeo > Payson
  • Sonoita Memorial Day Rodeo > Sonoita


  • Page/Lake Powell Rodeo Days > Page
  • Flagstaff Pro Rodeo > Flagstaff
  • Copper Spur Round-Up > Bagdad
  • Prescott Frontier Days > Prescott
Arizona Rodeo - Wickenburg Rodeo bare horseback


  • Prescott Frontier Days > Prescott
  • Navajo Nation PRCA Pro Rodeo > Window Rock


  • The Annual World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo > Payson
  • Sonoita Labor Day Rodeo > Sonoita
  • Williams Labor Day Rodeo > Williams


  • Williams Labor Day Rodeo > Williams
  • Sonoita Labor Day Rodeo > Sonoita
  • Navajo Nation Fair All-Indian Rodeo > Window Rock
Arizona Rodeo - Wickenburg Rodeo bare horseback


  • Williams Labor Day Rodeo > Williams
  • Navajo Nation Fair All-Indian Rodeo > Window Rock
  • Benson Butterfield Days GCPRA Rodeo > Benson


  • Gilbert Days Rodeo > Gilbert
  • Arizona Wild West Days > Cave Creek


  • Arizona National Livestock Show (includes a little rodeo) > Phoenix
Arizona Rodeo - Wickenburg Rodeo

How about you? Have you been to a rodeo? Did you love it?! Would you consider adding one to your Arizona adventures?

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  1. We have a rodeo here where I live. It is held at our local civic center. It is nothing like this one. I have only attended once but I would love to attend a real one like this one.

  2. Neely Moldovan says:

    Rodeos are SO FUN! WE just went to the Houston rodeo and really its something everyone can enjoy!

  3. The rodeo is always such a good time for the family! I love watching the trick horses the most

  4. I’ve never been to a rodeo. There is one in my area (in NC) and I need to see if I can take my husband and son one day!

  5. We get a travelling rodeo coming through our area each year, but nothing as official as these. Would be very cool to go to one live!

  6. This brings me back to when I lived in Calgary! I loved the stampede. The rodeo was my favourite.

  7. Timothy Jackson says:

    Payson, Arizona is where rodeo began. The annual World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo in the United States is a world famous event that is celebrated the 3rd full weekend in August Annually. Other annual rodeos held in Payson include the Payson Garry Hardt Memorial Rodeo the action packed Jim Barrett Memorial High School Rodeo.