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September 2017

Crowds pack Virginnia Street to watch this rodeo parade held in the 1950s
Crowds pack Virginnia Street to watch this rodeo parade held in the 1950s 

Professional cowboys did return to the Reno Rodeo in 1950 – in greater numbers than ever – as they pursued a purse topping $10,000, plus entry fees. Ray Peterson was in his first year as president of the Reno Rodeo Association.

The rodeo parade of 1950 was a spectacle all its own. It was so large it was divided into seven sections and would cover a four-mile route through downtown and into the rodeo arena. Governor Val Pittman and Senator George Malone were among the dignitaries participating in the parade, which also included “a thousand horses, hundreds of Indians and scores of floats” according to the Nevada State Journal. The Reno Rodeo queen was Odile Frost. The rodeo was underwritten by 143 local businesses, with additional contributions from the Bank Club of Reno, Harold’s Club, Harrah’s Club, the Mapes Hotel, Place Club, Palace Club, Riverside and Sam Jacksick.

More than 9,000 people attended the championship go-round of the rodeo and an estimated 50,000 visitors converged on the city for rodeo week. Claude Henson of Chandler, AZ, was named champion all-around cowboy, receiving a custom carved saddle for his efforts. The bareback was a Henryetta, OK, cowboy named Jim Shoulders, who go on to win a record 16 world championships. This was his first-ever title at the Reno Rodeo. Other winners included Loren Fredricks in bull riding, Bart Clennon in saddle bronc, Ike Edson in steer wrestling, Clay Carr in calf roping and Claude Henson and Buck Standifer in team roping. The Nevada saddle bronc champion was Harry Rode.

A specialty event featuring six saddle bronc riders was on by a young California buckaroo named Cotton Rosser, who took home $500. Rosser would go on to become a hall of fame stock contractor. His Flying U Rodeo Company has been the stock contractor for the Reno Rodeo for over 50 years.

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

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