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Top Bull Riders and Rodeo Athletes Head to Las Vegas for Historic Weekend

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (April 19, 2021) – The world’s top bull riding and rodeo athletes will head to Las Vegas for an historic western sports weekend in the Entertainment Capital of the World June 11-13 as PBR (Professional Bull Riders) welcomes fans back into the arena for the Unleash The Beast- Las Vegas Invitational and the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo- Vegas Showdown at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The pairing of the world’s leading bull riding league with the only national touring all-Black rodeo will mark several milestones:

  • PBR will for the first time co-produce the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, bringing fans an event that includes Bareback Riding, Tie Down Roping, Bull Dogging, Ladies Barrel racing, Ladies Steer Undecorating, Bull Riding and Junior Break Away on Sunday, June 13.
  • The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo will be broadcast at 1 p.m. ET on CBS Television Network on Saturday, June 19 – Juneteenth – becoming the first all-Black rodeo to be televised on national broadcast television.
Photo by Andy Watson

In early February, PBR announced a partnership with the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo (BPIR) to create new events, exposure, and opportunities for the largest and longest-running rodeo celebrating Black Western sports athletes.
“Our mission is to educate people about the talented and skilled black cowboys and cowgirls who not only compete in the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, but historically, have made significant contributions to American history,” said Valeria Howard-Cunningham, President of BPIR. “Showcasing an all-Black rodeo on CBS Television Network on a PBR event weekend will be a proud and shining moment for our athletes, our organization, and the entire sport of rodeo. This will be one of the most important events in our 37-year history.”


“PBR aligned with BPIR to help expand their reach and give talented rodeo athletes new opportunities in new cities, venues, and broadcast outlets,” said Sean Gleason, Commissioner and CEO of PBR. “We’re thrilled to see our vision come to life in with this great historic rodeo in Las Vegas paired with our premier series and carried on CBS.”
“We are excited about the partnership between PBR and the Bill Pickett Invitational and their efforts to celebrate Black rodeo athletes,” said Dan Weinberg, Executive Vice President, Programming, CBS Sports. “Developing and showcasing diverse programming is a top priority at CBS Sports and we are proud to air the first-ever national broadcast of an all-Black rodeo, on CBS on Juneteenth.”

Photo by Andy Watson


“When you think of the most significant moments involving Black cowboys and rodeo, there is Bill Pickett developing what would become the sport of tie-down roping, the American Black Cowboy Association hosting an all-Black rodeo at Downing Stadium in Harlem 50 years ago this year, Myrtis Dightman becoming the first Black rodeo cowboy to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo, Charlie Sampson becoming the first to win a PRCA world title, and Fred Whitfield winning multiple PRCA world titles. But seeing a Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo on network television – there is no greater moment in the past 100 years,” said Keith Ryan Cartwright, the author of Black Cowboys of Rodeo.
PBR has been a leader throughout the health crisis in establishing protocols for safe and responsible events. PBR was the first major professional sport in North America to welcome fans back to indoor arenas with new safety protocols in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in July 2020 following the COVID-19 related shutdown, and also the first to offer a professional sporting event at full indoor-arena capacity when returning to Sioux Falls on April 9-11.
PBR is committed to continuing to create a safe and responsible environment for all fans in attendance.
Guidelines and protocols in place for the PBR weekend will include:

  • Mobile ticketing to replace traditional printed tickets.
  • Increased reliance on cashless, contactless concessions.
  • Adherence to any/all state or local mandated guidelines for social distancing and facial coverings
  • Temperature testing and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) screening for all staff.
  • In addition to CDC screening, PBR staff and athletes will undergo medical testing for COVID-19.

The bull riding action begins at 7:45 p.m. PT on Friday, June 11 and 6:45 p.m. PT on Saturday, June 12. The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo will follow on Sunday, June 13 and begin at 12:45 p.m. PT.


Tickets for the three days of nonstop action go on sale to the general public on Friday, April 23 and can be purchased by calling PBR at (800) 732-1727, by visiting pbr.com or axs.com. Prices range from $20.45 to $140.25.

PBR-Logo
PBR-Logo


About PBR (Professional Bull Riders)

PBR is the world’s premier bull riding organization. More than 500 bull riders compete in more than 200 events annually across the televised PBR Unleash the Beast Tour (UTB), which features the Top 30 bull riders in the world; the PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour (PWVT); the PBR Touring Pro Division (TPD); and the PBR’s international circuits in Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico. PBR’s digital assets include RidePass, which is home to Western sports. PBR is a subsidiary of IMG, a global leader in sports, fashion, events and media. For more information, visit PBR.com, or follow on Facebook at Facebook.com/PBR, Twitter at Twitter.com/PBR, and YouTube at YouTube.com/PBR.


About BPIR

In 1977, during Wyoming’s Cheyenne Frontier Days, Lu Vason’s interest turned toward rodeo after his curiosity was aroused when he noted the absence of Black cowboys and cowgirls participating that day. Over the next couple of years, Vason, a leader in the entertainment community, did his research and found thousands of Black Cowboys and Cowgirls across the country lacking the opportunity to showcase their talents. Vason was convinced that the time had come to uncover the cultural past of the Black Cowboy.


In 1984, he created an all-Black rodeo association named after the legendary Black cowboy, Bill Pickett, who originated the rodeo event called “bulldogging’. After Vason’s passing in 2015, his wife, Valeria Howard-Cunningham, began working to keep the legacy alive. Howard-Cunningham felt the rodeo had a rich history, legacy, and a huge importance to the community. She is deeply passionate about BPIR, works hard to create and enhance the organization’s vision and created a detailed strategic direction for BPIR. Key to this vision is the belief that promoting a first-class African American rodeo tour remains critical to Black Cowboys/Cowgirls and their communities.
Fueled by these principles, the Bill Pickett Invitation Rodeo is entering its 37 year of educating, entertaining and connecting communities across the US as the “Greatest Show on Dirt”.

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