The 1946 rodeo parade stretched for more than 30 blocks and consisted of more than 1000 people, 800 horses, 50 floats and four marching bands. Ted Baker of Baker Stables, director of the rodeo parade since 1934, told the Nevada State Journal he had never seen such a parade, nor such a crowd that turned out to watch it. People lined Valley Road five deep. The Nevada State Journal described the crowd this way: “They stood more than an hour, jammed shoulder to shoulder peering over one another’s heads, and cheer after cheer burst out as the various riders, floats and bands passed by.” Once again, the hotels overflowed and people slept in parks and in their cars.
Both the Nevada State Journal and Reno Evening Gazette covered the rodeo as front-page news with banner headlines touting record crowds attending the event. “Record-smashing attendance – an overflow crowd which was thrilled by a berserk brahma bull at the climax – yesterday launched the 1946 Reno Rodeo, back in all of its pre-war color and competition,” the Journal reported in its July 5 edition.
With travel restrictions once again lifted, the top cowboys in the country converged on Reno. Bud Linderman won the saddle bronc riding and the all-around championship. Wag Blessing took the bull riding title and Homer Pettigrew captured the steer wrestling. Jack Spurling won the bareback, Joe Basset the calf roping and Eddie Schell and Pete Grubb the roping. Rod Kelly was the Nevada saddle bronc champion.
Another highlight of the 1946 rodeo was the return of women bronc riders, among them 16-year-old Pee Wee Burge. She not only competed in bronc riding, but also performed trick riding for the crowd. “Little Pee Wee Burge, the girl bronc buster, drew a big ovation from fans as she stayed the full time aboard her mount,” the Journal reported.
The rodeo in 1946 was a huge success, setting the stage for even greater events to follow.