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June 2016

Despite its success in terms of attendance and competition, 1922 was the last Reno Rodeo held until the early 1930s. Financial had taken their toll on the event. A carnival was brought to town in 1926 to help pay off a debt of $900 still owed from the 1922 rodeo.

After a decade without a rodeo, Reno pulled out all stops in June 1932 with Pony Express Days, a three-day celebration including the biggest parade the city had ever seen. Hollywood celebrities and the top cowboys and cowgirls in the country came to Reno for the events.

The city was decorated in its Fourth of July splendor, with banners and window displays throughout the downtown corridor. The Reno Evening Gazette described the opening parade: “Hundreds of Reno residents and visitors were thronged along the line of march as cowboys, cowgirls, Indians and clowns swept by, mounted on the most impressive array of steeds ever exhibited in the city. The parade was more than a mile in length and included dude ranch sections, cowboys from western ranges, prominent state and city officials, celebrities and Indians clad in tribal regalia.”

Nevada Gov. Fred Balzar and Lt. Gov. Morley Griswold held places of honors in the parade along with California Gov. James Rolph, Jr. and Will James, the cowboy artist and author who lived in Washoe Valley. Hollywood film stars including Rex Bell (long before his days as Nevada Lt. Gov.) Roscoe Turner, Harry Carr and others also participated.

In addition to the rodeo events first day highlights included trick roping by world champion Sam Garrett, who along with Jack Lindsley organized the entire Pony Express celebration.

More than 10,000 people attended the three-day show, and though expenditures far outdistanced gains, Garrett said the rodeo would definitely return the next year. It did, but on a much smaller scale. Among the champions of the 1932 rodeo were all-around champion Hub Whiteman of Clarksville, Texas; bronc rider Pete Knight, who rode the famed bucking horse Cannonball to a standstill; Richard Meredith in calf roping; E.E. Hill in bull riding and Hugh Bennett in steer wrestling. A motion picture truck from Hollywood was on hand to film the event for show in hundreds of movie theaters throughout the country.

The stories for the Count Down to 100 are excerpts from “A History – The First 80 Years” by Guy Clifton.

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