Rodeo time in the Old Pueblo
Explorer file photo, A rodeo clown comes in to distract an irritated bull that's flung a cowboy at a recent Tucson Rodeo. This year's La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, the 85th annual, runs through this Sunday.

The first La Fiesta de los Vaqueros – that's Spanish for "Celebration of the Cowboys" — in 1925 touted three days of events and competition.

Today, the event has grown to a nine-day celebration centered on the Tucson Rodeo, one of the top 25 professional rodeos in North America.

The 2010 La Fiesta de los Vaqueros runs through this Sunday, Feb. 28, at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds, 4823 S. 6th Ave.

Current and former Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champions are featured in each Tucson Rodeo.

"The entry list for Tucson could be the 'Who's Who' of pro rodeo," boasts Gary Williams, general manager of the Tucson Rodeo. "In addition to the caliber of competition and the prize money, cowboys look forward to Tucson because the fans are great and the sky is blue. This is the first major outdoor rodeo of the year, so they're ready for sunshine, fresh air and 11,000 fans each day cheering them on."

The Tucson Rodeo brings out more than 650 contestants from the United States and Canada competing for more than $320,000 in prize money. The Tucson Rodeo, the first major outdoor event on the PRCA schedule, is "an opportunity to see real-life cowboys and cowgirls display their ability in the only sport in the world developed from work skills."

Rodeo events include ball riding, bareback and saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, team roping and women's barrel racing. Also featured each day are kids' events — Dodge Mutton Bustin', when four- to six-year-olds test their riding skills on sheep, and the Justin Junior Rodeo for young cowpokes ages 7-12.

The Tucson Rodeo Committee and Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee, both volunteer-based, nonprofit community groups, stage La Fiesta de los Vaqueros. Proceeds from the Tucson Rodeo benefit the University of Arizona Scholarship fund, Southern Arizona Susan G. Komen Foundation, the Lion's Club, Rotary clubs and 4-H groups.

Order rodeo tickets online, or call (520) 741-2233 or (800) 964-5662.



Parade, one of the Old Pueblo's favorite events

The Tucson Rodeo Parade is one of the Old Pueblo's great traditions.

Each year, more than 200,000 people watch western-themed floats and buggies, historic horse-drawn coaches, festive Mexican folk dancers, marching bands and outfitted riders. It is billed as the world's longest non-motorized parade.

This year's event is this Thursday morning, Feb. 25, starting at 9 a.m. The route begins at Park Avenue and Ajo Way, continues south to Irvington Road, then heads west on Irvington Road to South Sixth Ave.

Grandstands for viewing are located on Irvington at South 6th Avenue. Viewing along both sides of the route, which stretches just over a mile, is available at no charge.

Shuttles to and from area malls are available through Sun Tran. Call 792-9222 for information or visit


Check out the museum

Visitors to Tucson in January and February can explore the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum. Located on the northeast corner of S. Sixth Ave. and Irvington Road, the large building was originally the first city airport hangar, established in 1918. It was dedicated Nov. 20, 1919 and was referred to as the Mayse Airport.

There are more than 100 buggies and wagons on display as well as a continually growing collection of Old West artifacts. There is a typical western street with various shops, and historical memorabilia of Tucson.

The museum is open Monday through Friday during January and February from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Special groups such as school children or organizations may see the museum during the week by appointment. Arrangements may be made for private group viewings by calling the Parade Museum office at 294-1280.


For more information on the Tucson Rodeo Parade and Museum, contact the Tucson Rodeo Parade, P.O. Box 11006, Tucson, 85734. The phone number is 294-1280. The Web site is




85th annual La Fiesta de los Vaqueros


2010 schedule of events


Wednesday, Feb. 24

Barrel racing slack – 8 a.m.

Gold Card team roping – 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

Mike Cervi Jr., Memorial Team Roping — Noon-5 p.m.

Non-sanctioned team roping event honors the late PRCA roper from Marana. Proceeds benefit the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. $10 admission, under 13 free. Tickets at the gate only. Free parking.

REACh program for school children — 9:30 a.m.-11:15 a.m.


Thursday, Feb. 25

Tucson Rodeo Parade, 9 a.m.

More than 200 non-motorized floats are on display along the 1-1/2-mile parade route beginning at Park Ave. and Ajo Way, proceeding south on Park to Irvington Rd. Tickets for grandstand seating at Irvington and South 6th Ave, $6 adults, $4 kids under 13. Call (520) 294-1280 for grandstand tickets.

Tucson Rodeo, third performance

Gates open – 11 a.m.

Dodge Mutton Bustin' and Justin Junior Rodeo — 12:30 p.m.

ProRodeo competition — 2-4:30 p.m.

Tickets: $17-$23


Friday, Feb. 26

Tucson Rodeo, fourth performance

Gates open – 11 a.m.

Dodge Mutton Bustin' and Justin Junior Rodeo — 12:30 p.m.

ProRodeo competition — 2-4:30 p.m.

Tickets: $17-$23. Add $1 per ticket when purchased at the gate


Saturday, Feb. 27

Tucson Rodeo, fifth performance

Gates open – 11 a.m.

Dodge Mutton Bustin' and Justin Junior Rodeo — 12:30 p.m.

ProRodeo competition — 2-4:30 p.m.

Tickets:  $18-$24


Sunday, Feb. 28

Tucson Rodeo, final performance

Gates open – 11 a.m.

Dodge Mutton Bustin' and Justin Junior Rodeo — 12:30 p.m.

ProRodeo competition — 2-4:30 p.m.

Tickets: $20-$26



From I-10: take Park Ave. exit south; turn west (right) on Irvington Road

From I-19: take Irvington Road exit east

4823 S 6th Ave., Tucson



Entrances to parking lot from S. 6th Ave. and from 3rd Ave. off Irvington Road. Parking fee is $5 per car.


Sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

Stock furnished by Beutler & Son Rodeo Co.



Sun Tran runs shuttles to big parade

Sun Tran is providing shuttle service to the 85th annual La Fiesta de los Vaqueros Parade this Thursday, Feb. 25.

Round-trip full fare is $2.50. Seniors 65 and older, people with disabilities, or individuals with ADA or Medicare cards pay $1.25 for a round-trip ride. Children 5 and under ride for free.

Passengers may board the shuttle from 7 to 9 a.m. at:

• Park Place Mall, in the southeast corner just west of LA Fitness;

• The Tucson Mall, east of American Home Furnishings.

Passengers are encouraged to arrive at their boarding location early to ensure a timely trip.

Shuttles deliver passengers to the Tucson Rodeo Grounds on 6th Avenue just south of Irvington Road.

Buses run for approximately 45 minutes after the parade ends to return passengers to their original boarding locations.

All Sun Tran buses are wheelchair-accessible.

For more information on the rodeo parade shuttle, call 792-9222.

For specific Sun Tran information, consult Sun Tran's Ride Guide, visit Sun Tran's web site at, or call Sun Tran's Customer Service Center at (520) 792-9222 (for persons with TDD equipment call 520-628-1565).  Except on major holidays, the customer service center is open weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.



Facts about Tucson Rodeo

More than 1,000 horses participate in the Tucson Rodeo, outnumbering the 600-plus contestants.


More than 2,000 cowboy hats are sold at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds during the event.


More than 5,000 school children attend the REACh  program during rodeo week.


More than 50,000 people attend the Tucson Rodeo's six performances each year.


A portion of the Tucson Rodeo's proceeds from Tough Enough to Wear Pink Day is donated to the local Susan G. Komen Foundation.


Cowboys love Tucson's February sunshine — Tucson is the only outdoor rodeo among the top 25 rodeos from mid-September through early May.


Tucson Rodeo fans rank bull riding and barrel racing as their number one and two favorite events.

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