Logan Burtch-Buus

Hey fellow Tucsonans, did you all know that Tucson is the site of one of the top 25 annual rodeos in the country? If you didn't, or you haven't been to the rodeo yourself, then you are dearly missing out. Starting Feb. 16 and running through to Feb. 24, La Fiesta de los Vaqueros (The Celebration of the Cowboys) will be held at the Tucson Rodeo grounds, located at 4823 S. 6th Ave.

The Tucson Rodeo has been a tradition in the city since 1925, when Tucson was no more than a frontier town out in the Wild West. A man by the name of Leighton Kramer was the mind behind the rodeo. As president of the local polo club, Kramer was interested in capitalizing on the excitement of the Wild West and the notoriety that Tucson held, being a frontier town out West. He and the polo association set up the first Fiesta de los Vaqueros to try and bring in visitors to live some of the excitement of the Wild West and see what it was like first hand to handle cattle, horses, and other farm animals. After The Arizona State prohibition officials spent weeks cleaning up the town of all illegal moonshining stills, the rodeo was ready to begin in full.

What started as an opportunity to bring some winter visitors into Tucson of old, has now become the location of a nine-day affair, bringing you the sights and smells (you get used to it after a while) of the rodeo, and the excitement it brings with it.

The rodeo hosts multiple professional events; bareback riding, steer wrestling, and bull riding just to name a few. These are no amateur cowboys. The Tucson Rodeo is a collection of some of the best cowboys and cowgirls in the world, who use this as a chance to show their skill and win cash prizes. The fun is not limited to professionals, though. There are multiple children's events that are guaranteed to entertain. Children can compete in Mutton Bustin' and a full junior rodeo, bringing the fun to riders of all ages.

The riders and competitors are not the only professional athletes on showcase at the rodeo, the animals used in the rodeo are some of the best in the world. From Elk City, Okla., Beutler & Son Rodeo Company provides some of the highest quality bulls and horses around. As half the score many of the competitors receive is based on the performance of the animals, the best profession’s best are needed.

Many of the animals competing also compete in the Wrangler National Rodeo in Las Vegas, one of the most prestigious arenas for rodeo. Those animals not supplied for the competitors, such as for steer wrestling, roping, and barrel racing, are trained and owned by the competitors themselves.

The Fiesta de los Vaqueros is an opportunity for you and your family to see that a small part of the Wild West days lives on in the men, women, and children who compete in the sport of rodeo and it's many different aspects. So, spend some time out in the sun, take in the varied sights and smells, and take that opportunity to get some delicious Indian fry bread and a hotdog and enjoy the show.

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