Family Friendly Events in Large Supply at Reno Rodeo

Reno – The Reno Rodeo, which kicks off for ten-days on June 20, has a full slate of family-friendly events and activities including Kids’ Day, Mutton Bustin’ and Special Kids’ Rodeo, all of which are sure to fill the days with memorable experiences for the whole family.

Wild Pony Races — June 21-24
Catch the Wild Pony Races on June 21 to the 24. Four teams of three kids ages 8–14 will compete to rope, halter and ride ponies. Teams with the longest ride are deemed the winner.

Rodeo Parade — June 22
Celebrate the west at this year’s Reno Rodeo Parade beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 22. The parade will march downtown on Virginia Street, starting on College Drive and ending at Mill Street. See horses, wagons, Miss Reno Rodeo, and more at this year’s parade!

Reno Rodeo Kids’ Day — June 23
Reno Rodeo Kids’ Day allows children to learn the ropes of being a cowboy or a cowgirl. Kids’ Day is a free event and runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 23 in the Livestock Events Center. Children will learn about western lifestyle, agriculture, safety, and more. Kids’ Day will include several animals, interactive vendors, and live displays throughout the indoor arena. 

Fourth Annual Reno Rodeo Mutton Bustin’ Championships — June 23
Mutton Bustin’ is back. Watch young cowboys and cowgirls race and ride sheep to win the championship. Check-in begins at 9 a.m. on Sunday, June 23 and the event ends at 1 p.m. Applications are full for the championship, so apply early next year on the Reno Rodeo website.

Special Kids’ Rodeo — June 23
The Special Kids’ Rodeo allows children and young adults with physical and mental exceptionalities to participate in western activities. Participants can interact with animals, rope steer dummies, and ride mechanical bulls and horses. Applications are closed and will be made available next spring for the 2020 rodeo.  

Sierra Nevada Junior Rodeo — June 28 and June 29
See young cowboys and cowgirls in action at the Sierra Nevada Junior Rodeo from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 28–29. This exciting event highlights youth competing in team roping, breakaway roping, steer daubing, goat tying and barrel racing. The Pee Wees will be dummy roping and competing on their stick horses. Applications to participate can be found here.

For information on the Reno Rodeo visit www.renorodeo.com.

‘It’s a Big Damn Deal’: 100 Years of Reno Rodeo

rendering of proposed new reno rodeo arena

When the “Wildest, Richest, Rodeo in the West” kicks off this month it will mark a major milestone in Reno history. The Reno Rodeo is celebrating 100 years of bronc riding, bucking bulls, roping, and racing in the Biggest Little City. Reno may have made its name on gambling and divorce, but its western heritage runs deep. This year, Reno Rodeo officials are honoring that history and hoping to keep the annual event alive for another 100 years.  

Before the casinos, Reno was a scrappy railroad town where miners and buckaroos mingled. The city held its first rodeo – the Nevada Round-Up – over Fourth of July weekend in 1919. “The first three years were very successful,” says Mike Torvinen, current Reno Rodeo President. “Then in 1922 they got very exuberant and lost a bunch of money and weren’t able to hold the event again until the 1930s.”

When the rodeo did come back to Reno in 1932 it rebranded as Pony Express Days – a 3-day event that drew more than 10,000 fans. A rodeo has been held since then under various names. In the 1940s it was billed as the Reno War Relief Rodeo. It was briefly called the Nevada High Roller Round-up in the early 1980s. But the name that has stuck is the Reno Rodeo.

Saddle Bronc at the Reno Rodeo. Photo by James Crawshaw.

Despite its choppy origins, the Reno Rodeo has grown into a major event and a staple in the community. Today the Reno Rodeo is a 10-day PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) sanctioned event with a non-profit made up of hundreds of volunteers. The event is a boon for the city, drawing more than 140,000 attendees and contributing more than $50 million dollars to the Reno and Sparks area economy.

The Reno Rodeo may not be the oldest or largest rodeo in the country, but it holds its own on the circuit. “We’re top 10 for sure and a must stop on the tour for rodeo cowboys,” says Torvinen. Nevada has always bucked the trends and the Reno Rodeo is no different. “We give our champion cowboys and cowgirls a pair of spurs as opposed to a buckle,” says Torvinen. “They’re coveted. It’s one of those bucket list things. Guys want to have a pair of Reno Rodeo spurs.”

This year the Reno Rodeo is pulling out all the stops to celebrate 100 years. The months preceding the rodeo have been filled with special events designed to drum up excitement, including lectures, concerts, art projects, and more. It’s working. “People can’t wait to come to the rodeo,” says Torvinen. “Our sponsorships have grown. Our ticket sales are through the roof. We’ve sold twice as many commemorative buckles this year. We have tremendous support from the community.”

Barrel Racer Tammy Fischer at the Reno Rodeo. Photo by James Crawshaw.

While the Reno Rodeo is celebrating its history and success, officials are worried about the future. The rodeo has outgrown its home at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center. “The facilities are run down,” says Torvinen. “It’s really limiting us on all levels from ticket sales to sponsorship sales to the things we can do in the arena to events we could sponsor.” The 39-acre agricultural complex just east of the University of Nevada, Reno has hosted the Reno Rodeo for decades but is beginning to show its age.

Many of the buildings are in desperate need of a facelift or repair, but the financial estimates are daunting. This past winter the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA), who manages the facility, voted to demolish two buildings on the site citing prohibitive repair costs. Some estimates put the deferred maintenance costs at more than $16 million dollars. But where would that money come from?

The Livestock Events Center has complicated ownership. The state-owned property is leased to Washoe County and managed by the RSCVA. So far none of those agencies have been willing to pony up the funds to revitalize the facility. The Reno Rodeo is not the only user of the Livestock Events Center, but they are the biggest and most demanding. Rodeo officials say the responsibility for maintenance shouldn’t fall on them. Nonetheless, they have come up with an ambitious plan.      

“Even though we’ve only got the grounds for three weeks out of the year, if we want to have a home, we better get a facility that serves year-round so it can be self-sustaining,” says Clint Thiesse, a Reno Rodeo Past President and Chairman of the Legacy Committee. The Reno Rodeo formed a Legacy Committee back in 2007 to ensure the future of the rodeo. An essential component of that is an entirely new livestock facility.

rendering of proposed new reno rodeo arena
Rendering of the proposed new facility at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Event Center. Courtesy Reno Rodeo.

The Legacy Committee’s plan envisions a new 52,000 square foot exhibition hall to replace the current 20,000 square foot exhibit area. It also calls for a new 72,000 square foot indoor arena, a parking garage with up to 1,600 horse stalls on the ground level and 2,400 parking spaces on three levels above, and a 100,000 square foot vendor plaza and carnival area. The pièce de résistance would be a state of the art 15,000 seating capacity outdoor arena that would nearly double the capacity of the existing arena.

The new facility would allow the Reno Rodeo to keep growing, but officials aren’t just thinking about themselves. They say the new facility would benefit the city as a whole. “Everything we have on our plan is really an essential piece to get larger equestrian events here,” says Thiesse. “That’s what the grounds are supposed to be for – an ag-based event center and we’re trying to maintain that.”

Las Vegas regularly attracts huge national and international horse shows and events, bringing in millions of dollars to the city. Reno Rodeo officials think Reno could attract some of those organizations too if they had better facilities to offer. “We would compete very well with a lot of those events that go down there and a lot of events that don’t want to go to Las Vegas that would want to come here,” says Torvinen.

Rendering of the proposed new outdoor arena at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center. Courtesy Reno Rodeo.

As with most things, money is the biggest challenge to the Legacy Committee’s plan. Torvinen and Thiesse both went to the Nevada Legislature repeatedly this session to try to solicit support. They even had a bill – SB 466 – that would appropriate $1.5 million dollars for planning and design for the Livestock Events Center project. “A million and a half dollars, although a sizeable amount of money, is budget dust compared to when you look at the entire state project,” says Torvinen.   

SB466 was introduced and referred to the Committee on Finance but the Legislative session ended without any further action taken. Torvinen says they will continue to push the state to help finance the project. “We truly believe in our heart that people will come. If we build it, people will come,” he says. “We have a good facility that’s been used well but used a lot, that needs to be revitalized and rehabbed. We’d really like you, state who owns the land, to help us move forward in this.”

[Ed. A separate bill, SB501, which appropriates $1 million from the State General Fund for the Reno Rodeo to conduct advance planning and design, did pass in the Legislature. Torvinen calls it “a huge vote of confidence from the Legislature and the Governor.”]

Torvinen says they are also open to other options, including the possibility of moving the Reno Rodeo to an entirely new location. “We could pick up what we’ve designed here and put it virtually anywhere if somebody brokers that deal and makes that happen,” he says. At one point, they even had a potential plan for Wildcreek Golf Course, before the Washoe County School District got the land to build a new high school. Ultimately the preference is to stay put. “We finally got to the point where we said let’s quit that, let’s figure it out here,” says Torvinen.

Carrying the flag at the Reno Rodeo. Photo by James Crawshaw.

Thiesse says he isn’t giving up on the legacy project either. “As Reno has grown and we’re getting more urbanized, our fan base has also grown surprisingly,” he says. “The citizens of Reno really like Reno Rodeo. There’s a lot of people that have been putting a lot of time and effort into this. We’re all working toward the same goal.”

For now, the next 100 years will have to wait. Torvinen and Thiesse have to turn their attention to this year’s rodeo, which begins next week. It’s been a flurry of activity behind the scenes preparing for the influx of horses, cowboys, cattle, and spectators. “We have 50+ committees that are responsible for various aspects of the rodeo all year long and during those 10 days,” says Torvinen. “It’s a great privilege to be the president and see the dedication and hard work that goes into making it happen. It’s a big damn deal!”

For more information on the Reno Rodeo visit www.renorodeo.com.

Reno Rodeo Ticket Office Now Open

Reno – The “Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West” returns to the Biggest Little City for the 100th year June 20-29, 2019, and beginning June 10 fans can purchase their tickets at the ticket office on the Reno Rodeo grounds. 

The ticket office will be open Monday–Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through the start of the rodeo and will stay open until approximately 8:30 p.m. once the rodeo begins.

Rodeo fans are encouraged to be aware of third-party ticket outlets, which have been known to markup tickets as much as 400 percent. Reno Rodeo Association management stands behind mynevadatickets.com as the only internet site licensed to sell tickets for the Reno Rodeo. No other site has been authorized by the Reno Rodeo Association to sell, re-sell or auction tickets. Fans have three options for purchasing tickets:

  • In person at the Reno Rodeo ticket office on grounds beginning June 10. No handling charge or service fee.
  • Conveniently online at www.mynevadatickets.com.
  • By calling 1-800-325-7328. Per ticket service and handling fees apply.

For information on the Reno Rodeo visit www.renorodeo.com.

Miss Reno Rodeo Pageant Now Accepting Applications

Reno – The search for Miss Reno Rodeo 2020 has begun! This year’s Miss Reno Rodeo pageant offers contestants the exciting opportunity to compete for the coveted position of goodwill ambassador of the 101st Reno Rodeo. Women between the ages of 18-24 with a passion for horsemanship, travel and rodeo culture are encouraged to apply. Application deadline is April 19.

“Being Miss Reno Rodeo has hands down been the most rewarding experience of my life,” said Miss Reno Rodeo 2019, Kaely Juzek. “I cannot wait for the next Miss Reno Rodeo to join the family. For any women thinking of running for Miss Reno Rodeo 2020, take the leap! The friendships you make and the experiences you gain are invaluable.”

The pageant will take place June 12-14, 2019 at various locations throughout Reno. Contestants will be judged on public speaking, horsemanship skills and equine and rodeo knowledge. The final coronation ceremony will be held on Friday, June 14 at 5:30 p.m., where the winner will be crowned Miss Reno Rodeo 2020.

Reigning Miss Reno Rodeo, Kaely Juzek, is a fourth generation Nevadan, but first generation cowgirl. Before her reign, Juzek was involved in 4-H and was a member of the Reno Rodeo Flag Team, as well as the Reno Rodeo Drill Team. She now is a certified Equine Massage Therapist and owns her own business, Destiny Equine. On behalf of Reno Rodeo, she travels to various rodeos and events all over the country, including the National Finals Rodeo, as well as engages in various community outreach efforts. 

According to the Reno Rodeo, strong candidates for Miss Reno Rodeo are poised and elegant, but aren’t afraid to have fun and get their boots dirty. Miss Reno Rodeo carries herself with integrity and is always honest and reliable. The Miss Reno Rodeo pageant reflects decades of Nevada and Reno Rodeo history, with Miss Reno Rodeo playing an important part of that legacy. 

For more information or to apply, please contact the Reno Rodeo office, visit the Reno Rodeo website or email ronda@gng-logistics.com.

Final Reno Rodeo “100 Years 100 Stories” Events Set

Reno –Not many organizations can say they’ve been an integral part of a community for a century. Come June, the Reno Rodeo will do just that.

To commemorate this impressive milestone, the Reno Rodeo launched the 100 Years 100 Stories project to show through pictures, short films, and live storytelling, how deeply rooted the legacy of the Reno Rodeo is in Northern Nevada.

Over the past two years, the project has collected, archived, and told stories from hundreds of people who are the lifeblood of the annual rodeo. The final two live storytelling events leading up to the Reno Rodeo’s centennial have been set for March 8 and May 10 at the Reno Elks Lodge.

Proceeds will go toward building a brand new, state-of-the-art events center, which will include a 15-thousand-seat arena. The Reno Rodeo Legacy committee has worked on a master plan of the 39-acre Livestock Event Center site and created a new vision for the next 100 years of the Reno Rodeo.

Tickets are $30 and include wine, beer and snacks. Purchase tickets by calling the Reno Rodeo office at 775-329-3877. Doors open at 6 p.m., presentation starts at 7 p.m. The Reno Elks Lodge is located at 597 Kumle Ln.

The Reno Rodeo 100 Years 100 Stories project is a community partnership between the Reno Rodeo Association and the Reno Rodeo Foundation. It is produced by Jessi LeMay, creator of The Folk & The Lore, and sponsored by Save Mart. Funding, in part, provided by the City of Reno Arts & Culture Commission with support from Nevada Historical Society.

Community members can help keep the legacy alive by sharing stories about rodeo, ranching and the cowboy way of life in Northern Nevada. Stories can be submitted by calling the hotline at 775-525-1088 with a three-minute story synopsis and contact info, or email info@jessilemay.com.

Pony Express and Reno Rodeo Need Letters for Veterans

Statewide – The National Pony Express Association (NPEA) and Reno Rodeo are asking the public to write letters to veterans! Pony Express riders will deliver the letters on horseback at the Reno Rodeo for Patriots Nights on June 21. The letters will be presented to the Nevada Veterans Coalition for distribution to US Veterans.

Join in this unique opportunity to show your appreciation to veterans. Each letter will receive a special stamp to signify that they were carried on horseback by the Pony Express. There is no cost and you can send as many letters as you like.

Mail Letters to:

Pony Express Letters for Veterans
c/o Reno Rodeo
PO Box 12335
Reno, NV 89510

DEADLINE: Letters must be received by June 15, 2019

You can use your own stationery or a template on the NPEA website. Not sure what to write? NPEA has provided some text suggestions on the website. Every letter will touch the life of a veteran. Help NPEA have a full mochila (mail bag) on Patriots Night to present to the Nevada Veterans Coalition. For templates and suggestions visit https://nationalponyexpress.org/npea-events/rodeo/.

“The Nevada Veterans Coalition is proud to partner with the [National] Pony Express Association and the Reno Rodeo in their Veterans Appreciation event. The letters we receive will be given to our veterans of WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, and even the Gulf War. Many of these veterans who served our country and gave up their youth have never heard the words ‘thank you for your service’ or ‘welcome home.’ These letters may well be the only thank you they will get in their lifetime,” says Brett Palmer, President of the Nevada Veterans Coalition.

The National Pony Express Association (NPEA) is an all-volunteer, historical non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with the purpose of identifying, re-establishing and marking the original Pony Express National Historic Trail, from St. Joseph, Missouri, via Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada to Sacramento, California. For more information visit https://nationalponyexpress.org/.

Reno Rodeo Announces Season Ticket Package

Reno – Excitement is growing and seats are already being reserved for the 2019 Reno Rodeo. In response to increasing early demand, more single day tickets will be released today along with the addition of a new season ticket package. The “Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West” returns to the Biggest Little City for the 100th year celebration Thursday, June 20 to Saturday, June 29, 2019.

The limited release single day tickets will be available on a first come, first served basis and are only available for purchase at the Lawlor Events Center ticket office, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. No refunds or exchanges on tickets.

“We know there has been a high demand on tickets, especially in Grandstand 3 where we have contractual holds related to sponsorship,” said 2019 Reno Rodeo President, Mike Torvinen. “We’re excited to be able to release some of these seats to the public.”

In addition to the single day tickets, rodeo fans will have the opportunity to purchase a season ticket package that guarantees the same seat each of the 10 nights of the Reno Rodeo and includes a VIP parking pass. Season tickets are limited and must also be purchased at the Lawlor Events Center ticket office.

Season ticket prices are as follows:

  • One ticket for all ten performances with one VIP parking pass – $450
  • Two tickets for all ten performances with one VIP parking pass – $700
  • Additional VIP parking pass – $200

“Since box seats don’t often become available, we created the season ticket package this year for our rodeo fans who don’t want to miss any of the action,” said Torvinen. “We’re seeing more and more demand, more sell-out nights and that’s why we’re actively working toward building a brand new, state-of-the-art events center, which will include a 15-thousand-seat arena.”

The Reno Rodeo is a 10-day PRCA sanctioned event that features classic rodeo competitions. With 10 exciting nights of rodeo competition, the Reno Rodeo is one of the premier stops on the Pro Rodeo Tour. The action isn’t just in the competition, however. There’s also a full carnival, the Double R Marketplace, a food court, the Jack tent and much more. For a full schedule of events visit www.renorodeo.com.