The rodeo originated from the practice of 16th century Spaniards and their Mexican ranch hands; Vaqueros, mixing cattle wrangling and bull fighting into a sporting competition. These events gained major popularity in New Spain and could be found at fairgrounds and racetracks through the region. The very first professional rodeo competition in the United States took place in Prescott, Arizona on July 4, 1888. A group of local business men offered cash prizes for the winners of a ‘cowboy contest’. The contestants and spectators consisted of local ranchers and their families because it gave them a chance to show off and compete with the skills they developed on the working ranch.
The Prescott rodeo began to gain notoriety in 1933 with such celebrities as Andy Devine, Will Rogers, and Jimmy Winerton in attendance. Arizona senator Barry Goldwater was took part in many of the events in his early days. In the mid-1930s, the rodeo was moved into its current location at the Yavapai County Fairgrounds, with funding from the federal government. In the 1940’s, a group of volunteers called the 20-30 club kept the rodeo going despite the temporary loss of many of its participants due to their involvement in WWII. In 1979, Prescott Frontier Days was formed. This group of hard working volunteers host the Prescott rodeo and make sure to uphold and continue the legacy of the USA’s oldest rodeo.
Today, the professional rodeo has become a multi-billion dollar industry spanning across 750 different venues in the United States. People come from across the southwest come to Prescott to experience the beautiful cool weather and western charm that this northern Arizona real estate has to offer. It is an event for all members of the family with a fine arts and crafts show, a parade, a kiddie parade, the exciting rodeo events and a remarkable fireworks display at the end of the evening.