In 1965 the event attracted numerous world champions, including two-time all-around and six-time calf roping champion Dean Oliver. The two reigning champions in saddle bronc and bareback – Enoch Walker and Jim Houston – also came to compete as did two-time world steer wrestling champion Harley May.
The Reno Rodeo Association, with George Southworth as president, said the 1965 rodeo would be “one of the best in history.” Judy Holt was the rodeo queen. Cotton Rosser and the Flying U Rodeo Company returned as stock contractor and Johnny Jackson of Woodlake, California, was the announcer.
The clowns were perennial favorites Jauquin Sanchez and Wilbur Plaugher. New events added to the program were the buffalo riding and Indian saddle bronc riding. Jim Crutcher of McDermitt had the most points after the three days of competition in the Indian saddle bronc contest. AS Sunday crowd of 5,000 saw Hall of Fame roper Jim Rodriquez, Jr., of California win the all-around championship.
Charles W. Mapes, Jr., was the rodeo association president in 1966, following in the footsteps of his father, who was a lifelong supporter of the rodeo.
Mapes met with the Washoe County Commission shortly after he was elected to the post and asked for $6,000 in new bleachers to increase the seating at the rodeo. The commission reluctantly granted the wish, putting the Reno Rodeo Association on notice that improved attendance was needed.
Mapes also extended the celebration to a “rodeo week” in Reno. The actual performances were still held over a three-day period, but many community activities were added in the days leading up to the start of the rodeo.
Hollywood celebrities once again returned for the rodeo. This time starlet Jane
Russell and actors Brian Dunleavy and Wendell Corey were in town to promote their new movie, “Waco.” The rodeo queen was Cindy Lee.
A new underwriting system was put into place with more than 150 businesses kicking in funds for the rodeo. When it was over, the underwriters had 50 percent of their funds returned. The plan to increase the seating worked to perfection as more than 8,000 turned out for the final day of the rodeo, and crowds of more than 7,000 were in attendance for the first two days.
Mapes also announced that special “Buckles of Merit” we be distributed to directors Jack Horgan, Jake Prior, Harry Drackert, Jim Mortenson and Ron Palmer for their efforts during the rodeo.