Rodeo Week means 'lots of excitement in the air' in Prescott
Welcome to Rodeo Week 2018, where there’s more going on than you can shake a stick at. (Well, OK, you could, but your arm would get pretty tired.)
The fun starts Thursday, June 28, when the 131st edition of the “World’s Oldest Rodeo” gets underway. The rodeo is sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and has both roughstock, or judged events, and timed events during each performance. During the week of June 28 through July 4, there are six evening performances at 7:30 p.m., and two daytime performances at 1:30 p.m.
“How can you not be excited?” said Mary Ann Suttles, secretary of Prescott Frontier Days. “It’s got top cowboys coming in, and there’s so much more money they’re able to win,” noting that several of the performances are already nearly sold out.
“Every year, there’s lots of excitement in the air around Prescott when the rodeo comes together,” said J.C. Trujillo, Prescott Frontier Days general manager. “We’ve got 588 contestants this year — professional rodeo cowboys — and we should be paying out right around $300,000” in prize money.
Before the first performance on Thursday, come early to see the 5 p.m. Happy Hearts Rodeo for Exceptional Children. This event, started in the early 1980s, consists of rodeo events modified so each contestant can participate.
OUTSIDE THE ARENA
That night, as well as June 29 and June 30 at 8 p.m., dance to the live music of Prescott’s own “Five in the Wheel” band at the Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo Dance, held outdoors at the BMO Harris Bank parking lot, corner of Montezuma and Sheldon streets. Thursday and Friday night are “family nights,” Suttles said, “so we can try to get as many young people into it as possible.”
You can dance there until 1 a.m., but then you might miss the Kiwanis Club of Prescott’s 76th Kiddie Parade in downtown Prescott at 9 a.m. Friday.
Then there’s the state’s second-largest parade, the Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo Parade, which kicks off at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 30, in downtown Prescott. (The award for biggest parade in the state goes to the Fiesta Bowl parade in Phoenix, but this one’s better.) This year’s theme is “Honoring Our Every Day Heroes.” Get there early for a good view.
After the parade, stick around the courthouse plaza for the Prescott Rodeo Days Fine Arts and Crafts Show. Artists from around the region come here to show their creations. The show runs June 30, July 1 and 2 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
That night, you get another chance to dance and do something good for charity, at the Whiskey Row Street Dance on Montezuma Street. It benefits the Boys & Girls Club of Central Arizona. Visitors and residents 21 and older are allowed at this event, which runs from 6:30 p.m. to midnight. A DJ spins records until 8 p.m., when “Well-Dressed Wolves” takes the stage, followed by Trey Odum.
Sunday morning, July 1, at 9 a.m., come back downtown for a little friendly competition between area fire departments as they battle it out in the Fireman’s Hose Cart Races. It’s a tradition dating back to the 1800s. (Fun fact: The Prescott Fire Department, founded in 1885, is the oldest in Arizona.) Prepare to get wet, which is usually welcome, given the summer heat.
On July 4, from noon to 9:30 p.m., kids of all ages can head to the Independence Day carnival on the football field of Mile High Middle School. There will be 10 to 12 inflatable waterslides, as well as live music, food vendors, and a beer garden. The 108th Army Band’s brass quintet, jazz band, rock band, and concert band are scheduled to perform at 5 p.m., 6 p.m., 7:40 p.m., and 9 p.m., respectively.
General admission to the event is $5 per person, and a $10 unlimited pass is available for children for use of the inflatables.
The big question is, will the drought conditions allow for the annual fireworks show?
If the fire department says it’s safe, it will happen at 9 p.m., with fireworks launched from atop the Granite Street parking garage and Mile High Middle School in downtown Prescott.
And the final performance of the 2018 edition of the “World’s Oldest Rodeo” takes place on July 4 as well, at 1:30 p.m.
(Editor's Note: The City of Prescott decided this week that proceeding with fireworks in the current dry conditions would be too risky. See story: Prescott cancels July 4 fireworks, Independence Day celebration will proceed.)