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March 2018

Team ropers compete in the 1958 rodeo in front of a packed house in the large grandstands.
Team ropers compete in the 1958 rodeo in front of a packed house in the large grandstands. 

In 1956, veteran actor Jimmy Stewart was in Reno to receive the coveted Silver Spurs Award, presented to the Hollywood actor who best kept the western tradition alive. Stewart was honored for his work in the film “The Man from Laramie” along with the film’s director Anthony Mann. The spurs were made by Reno’s Hoot Newman. Stewart rode atop a stagecoach during the Reno Rodeo parade, which was again led by Lieutenant Governor Rex Bell.

Rodeo Association President Rey Peterson was injured during a riding accident and Harry Frost took over many of his duties. The Reno Rodeo Association Board of

Directors included Lawrence Semenza, Milt Zimmerman, George Vargas, Jack Walther, Marshall Guisti, Guy Lent, Ralph Menante, George Parker, Fred Talley, Al Adams, Jack Horgan, A. E. Holgate, George Southworth, Jr., Lee Frankovich, Gordon Harris, Les Sanford and J. E. Slingerland.

Cotton Rosser and Chuck Sheppard were the judges and Chuck Parkinson was the announcer. The Reno Evening Gazette reported that the rodeo would be covered by NDC, ABC, Mutual and CBS radio; by Fox and CBS television; by Universal Newsreel, and by all of the news services.

Frank Sinatra, whose movie “Johnny Conch” debuted in Reno during rodeo week, donated two silver belts buckles as prizes for the rodeo.

With all the publicity, Casey Tibbs again seized the moment, winning the all-around title and the saddle bronc riding while finishing second in bareback.Hallo of Famer Bill Linderman won the steer wrestling, Harold Zwierlein the bareback, Sonny Davis the calf roping and Bill Boag the bull riding. Team roping champions were Duane Rutledge and Hap Lambert.

The Reno Rodeo Association promised an even bigger show in 1957. The Reno Evening Gazette reported the rodeo would kick off with the “longest parade in the history of the city,” under the direction of parade director Jack Horgan. The Silver Spurs Award was being presented to actor Glenn Ford and director Russell Rouse. Ford didn’t attend the rodeo because he was on location shooting a film. Actress Anne Francis accepted the award on his behalf. Rod Cameron, start of the television series “State Trooper” was also a special guest and received a special“Nevada State Trooper” badge.

“Thousands Watch Huge Parade in Downtown Reno” was the headline in the Gazette after the Fourth of July Kickoff. “In a gala holiday mood, visitors and Renoites alike applauded their favorites in the two-hour parade held under blue clear skies in near-record heat,” the Gazette reported. “The parade still snaked its way through downtown Reno as the first participants entered the rodeo grounds on Wells Avenue signaling the grand entry before a packed stadium.

Cotton Rosser and Dick Pascoe of the Flying U Rodeo Company provided the stock, along with Johnnie Jackson of Washoe Valley. Wilfred Cline’s champion bronc “Cheyenne” was brought to town, where he kept his unridden streak intact, bucking off former Reno champion Bill Ward.

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

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