Every year, the weekend of the 4th of July, my hometown hosts what has long been called the World’s Largest Amateur Rodeo- The Texas Cowboy Reunion.
In 1930, a group of businessmen from Stamford got together to think of some event that the town could host in order to give Stamford the bump it needed to survive the Great Depression.
After many ideas were scrapped, the idea of a rodeo was proposed. A natural amphitheater right outside town was provided by the local Swenson Ranch, and the rodeo was official.
The rodeo, with its main goal being to preserved the traditions of the western ranch and to bring economic activity to an otherwise quiet little town in West Texas, earned its fame through creation of events, such as the wild cow milking contest and cutting horse contest, as well as being the site of the first ever American Quarter Horse Association show.
The rodeo is held over 4 nights, Wednesday through Saturday, with dances every night following. The Tuesday night before they also hold the Preview Party, which is an art show that benefits the West Texas Rehab Center in Abilene. Events are held all day, including regular rodeo events, poetry readings, and a bar-b-que and a chuckwagon cookoff, to name a few.
So why do I love this rodeo so much? Well besides seeing old friends and showing off my killer dance moves, the TCR is a special piece of history. Literally dreamed up by a group of men looking to better their community, the TCR grew from a small event thrown together in the middle of a pasture, to a massive affair that brought 70,000 people to a town of 3,000 over the course of a week. It is the perfect example of what a little entrepreneurship and big dreaming can do.
The rodeo also is a piece of the Old West that we carry on to remember the traditions of those who “wrested this country from the Indians and the buffalo.” The rodeo encompasses the history of our town, and the history of the land that brought people to our town.
If it weren’t for the ranchers, the cattlemen, the entrepreneurs, and the big dreamers, the town I call home wouldn’t exist. Most of America as we know it today wouldn’t exist.
The brave men and women who called this place home when it was filled with nothing more than brush and buffalo paved the way for my family and yours, and by celebrating at the rodeo each year, we honor them.