With the end of the Reno Rodeo on June 25, professional rodeo cowboys and cowgirls are trekking across the country for the next week in search of big purses. The week of the Fourth of July is termed Cowboy Christmas and with good reason. About 30 Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA)/Women’s Pro Rodeo Association (WPRA) sanctioned events are held between June 27 and Independence Day, offering $3 million in prize money to contestants from New Jersey to California, Texas to British Columbia.
For many competitors on the road full time, Cowboy Christmas is make-or-break for their season. A big Fourth of July run can mean a contestant will stay on the road, possibly even earning enough to secure his position amongst the top fifteen money earners in the world standings — that means a berth at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in December in Las Vegas. Still others use the weekend to solidify their chase for world championships.
The best Fourth of July weekend in history was that of seven time All Around Champion Ty Murray back in 1999. Competing in the bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, and bull riding, Murray collected $37,630. In 2010 Trevor Brazile earned $24,253 in six rodeos en route to a record breaking, half a million dollar season in which he won three world championships.
The huge payout will have contestants driving and flying around the continent this week, trying to fit in as many rodeos as possible. According to the ProRodeo Sports News, world leaders Luke Branquinho and Cody Wright will be competing at nine rodeos each in seven days. Bareback rider Tilden Hooper will make ten rodeos in that same time frame.
The all night drives and chartered planes are worthwhile if a cowboy or cowgirl earns enough to punch their WNFR ticket.
The pro rodeo schedule for the Fourth of July weekend:
Ponoka, Alberta, Canada — June 27-July 3
Greeley, Colorado — June 27-July 4
Airdrie, Alberta Canada — June 28-July 2
Prescott, Arizona — June 28-July 4
Springdale, Arkansas — June 29-July 2
Cody, Wyoming — June 30-July 4
Dickinson, North Dakota — June 30-July 2
Oakley City, Utah — June 30-July 4
Williams Lake, British Columbia, Canada — June 30-July 3
Lake Luzerne, New York — July 1-2
Mesquite, Texas — July 1-2
West Jordan, Utah — July 1-2
Belton, Texas — July 1-3
Eugene, Oregon — July 1-3
Folsom, California — July 1-3
Manawa, Wisconsin — July 1-3
Molalla, Oregon — July 1-4
St. Paul, Oregon — July 1-4
Woodstown Pilesgrove, New Jersey — July 2
Belle Fourche, South Dakota — July 2-4
Livingston, Montana — July 2-4
Mandan, North Dakota — July 2-4
Mobridge, South Dakota — July 2-4
Red Lodge, Montana — July 2-4
Steamboat Springs, Colorado — July 2-4
Crawford, Nebraska — July 3-4
Killdeer, North Dakota — July 3-4
Fort Pierre, South Dakota — July 4-5