The Wild West, known for its gunslingin’ cowboys, bank robbing bandits, and crime-stopping Sheriffs has continued to influence western culture throughout history. From tumbleweeds to the tallest Saguaro cactus, the idea of the Wild West has captivated audiences through cinema, literature, art, and beyond. While Gunfights at the O.K. Corral have become a thing of the past, one integral piece of western history has remained, the sport of rodeo.
Tucson, Arizona, famous for its wild western flair has seen its fair share of award-winning western action. While it may be a hotspot for filming some of the world’s most popular westerns, including Tombstone (1993) and The Frisco Kid (1979,) Tucson is much more than a movie set! Each year Tucson pulls out all the stops for one of the most exciting events in rodeo, La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros, running February 16th-24th. This 9-day long party is for the cowboys and cowgirls as they compete in PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) rodeo events such as bull riding, bareback and saddle bronc, steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping, and barrel racing.
With a past as rich as a prospector hitting gold, La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros combines western tradition, with new age excitement to create one of the most exciting events during the PRCA season. The year was 1925 when an idea sparked in Leighton Kramer to draw more visitors to Tucson during the mid-winter months. With a chance to promote Tucson and celebrate its western history, La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros was born. Kramer’s official welcome in the first 1925 program, read:
“Not so many years ago the first pony express came to a sudden halt on our Main Street, carrying civilization southwestward. Not so many years ago the first railroad whistled in. Gone is the past. The hitching post has been removed. A new civilization has put steel and concrete and built a mighty city where only yesterday horses grazed within the memory of living man. The Pioneer Spirit lives. Heroic memories never die. The Old Frontier will be revived-at Tucson, February 21, 22 and 23, 1925—as a community revival. We are proud to offer this attraction to the people of American as a glorious reminder of yesterday” (tucsonrodeo.com).
As popularity grew throughout the years, the rodeo sought a larger facility to accommodate the action. Today the Tucson Rodeo Grounds seats 11,000 rodeo spectators. As a whole, rodeo week is viewed by over 200,000 spectators.
With 6 rodeo performances, parade, food and shopping vendors, rodeo dances, Mutton Bustin’ for the kiddos, the Justin Junior Rodeo, and the Chicks n Chaps Women’s Rodeo Clinic which raises money for breast cancer awareness, La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros is sure to be a 2019 hit in Tucson, Arizona! For a full schedule of events, please visit: (tucsonrodeo.com).
Tucson aims to keep their western heritage alive through community outreach and education. One notable program being REACh (Rodeo Education And Children,) in which K-6th-grade students are introduced to and taught all about western heritage, the sport of rodeo, today’s working cowboy, and how to “Cowboy Up” when faced with difficult decisions. Penny Conway, an elementary school teacher from Payson, Arizona created the program and ever since REACh has made its way across 31 states (tucsonrodeo.com).
Cowboy Lifestyle Network hopes you will join us in celebrating Tucson’s rich history and the rodeo thrills, spills, and excitement at La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros this February!
Tickets can be purchased here!