Clovis Rodeo History

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It is the 95th annual rodeo and quite a bit of history has been packed into the first 94 years. The annual rodeo is a treasured Clovis tradition nearly a century old.

A legacy from the city's earliest days. How it came to be is quite a story made possible by generations of committed families working to keep it coming back year after year. The all volunteer Clovis Rodeo Association pulls it off every year not just for the entertainment of the crowds or the professional cowboys who arrive compete for generous sums of money in the rodeo.

They do it to honor a rich western heritage. If you didn't grow up with a tradition of rodeo you may not quite understand the draw of an arena filled with horses, cattle, cowboys, clowns and crowds. For some it's an acquired taste. For others, like Jodie Simpson Evert, it's in their blood. She is a Clovis Rodeo volunteer, "My father was a 3rd generation cattleman in academy. The family came out 1852, his grand father, so it's was a natural way of life, the rodeo."

Rodeo grew naturally out the ranching lifestyle where a cowboy had to be pretty good at his job. How good became a bone of contention between competing ranchers and rodeo was born. Dan Forbs is a 3rd generation rancher himself, "Those kinda people would get together and show those skills and that's really how the old rodeo got started."

1914 was the first informal rodeo in Clovis at a community picnic organized by women says Stan King, a Past Grand Marshal of the event, "They had the other events going on individually at the ranches between themselves but collectively, when it was kind of put together as a unit, the women's club started the parade and the rodeo association followed.

In 1936 a group of ranching families put money where their hearts were to pony up 100 bucks each to buy land just south of downtown Clovis for a permanent rodeo arena. Half of that land was donated to build a school that stands today – Clark Intermediate School, the former Clark High School. Mark Thompson this year Clovis Rodeo Association President told us, "It was the right thing to do. They knew they wanted to Rodeo and the also knew the school needed some ground."

The annual parade continued to grow into a featured event and it draws huge crowds every year. Just like the professional rodeo talent brings 'em in to the grandstand.

Dan Forbs thinks these cowboys are truly the best, "They could go to the NFL, anything, they're just athletes but they choose rodeo as a life they like."

Pretty high praise from a guy who has spent most of his life making a living on a horse herding cattle with a faithful dog taking point!

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