There is a legend that says rodeo got its start when one ranch said they had a horse that couldn’t be rode, and another ranch said they had a cowboy that couldn’t be thrown.
The Clovis Rodeo story begins in 1914 as a community picnic called “Festival Day” sponsored by the Clovis Women’s Club then overseen by the local doctor’s wife Mrs. McMurtry and her friend, Bessie Merriman.
Later in 1935, the Clovis Rodeo Association was incorporated and the area of the old lumberyard, then being used as a golf course, was purchased adding bleachers and a corral. To this day the Clovis Rodeo is still held on the site, each year at the end of April.
In 1969, another festival called “Big Hat Days” was started as the opener for the rodeo season. During the 70s and 80s, these festivals started to become an excuse for heavy drinking and bar-room brawls and the city had to reign in the celebrations combining the Big Hat Days and the Rodeo. Proceeds from the Clovis Rodeo and related events benefit more than twenty-one local charities annually.
Rodeo is a unique part of American history and holds a rich place in our western heritage. For a dedicated group of volunteers preserving the cattle ranching history of the region, the spirit of rodeo and the Clovis Way of Life is why you can find them hard at work on many a day, night and weekend planning a great event. Next weekend is the big event… meanwhile we’ll step out and explore Old Town and its Western spirit Saturday morning, 4/21.
Discount tickets at Brown Paper Tickets; cash on on the day of tour, $49 per person. This week we meet at the Visitors Center (Tarpey Depot) and set off promptly at 10am.