Reno Rodeo Celebrates 100th Anniversary This Year
The Reno Rodeo starts June 20, when it will celebrate its 100-year anniversary.
The Reno Rodeo is six weeks away. The 10-day event starts June 20, marking the rodeo's 100th year. Part of that celebration is a 1,700-foot mural. Erik Burke and two assistants are painting the wall from the corner of Sutro Street and Oddie Boulevard to the east entrance to the rodeo grounds. It puts the rodeo's history into pictures, starting in 1919 and working its way up to 2019.
"Some parts are more enjoyable than others," Burke said. "A lot of times, the research is really fun. You come across the amazing stories that happened here and then sometimes it's a lot of pressure to paint that."
People who live in the area say they like how the massive mural is coming along.
"It's tremendous," Mark Camacho said. "It's good. It's better than looking at a blank wall. Some people don't like them. They complain about it but it's beautiful. It's a nice work."
Burke grew up in Reno and he is familiar with the annual rodeo. This project allows him to learn a lot more about the Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West, and put in on a canvass.
"Just trying to tell the history of the vaqueros, the African Americans that were involved, the Paiutes, the Native Americans," Burke said. "There's a lot of different parties that have been involved in rodeo and ranch culture."
Burke says a lot of stories stand out, including when Jesse Stahl the first black man to win first place at a rodeo.
"He was so good that he would actually ride horses backwards. He would get on the horse that bucked everyone off and ride that horse backwards to be like 'Watch this.'"
When asked about the cost of the project, Burke was reluctant to say.
"I can't kiss and tell," Burke said.
George Combs is the General Manager of the Reno Rodeo. He says the rodeo is paying about $30,000 for the project. It is expected to be finished by the end of May.
Combs says fans can expect a few extra things at this year's rodeo, along with the usual events like bull riding, steer wrestling and mutton bustin'.
"You'll see some entertainers, we've been doing some stuff," Combs said. "We've got a new barrel man in the arena this year, a clown, and he's a three-time barrel man of the year."
Combs says ticket sales are 145 percent ahead of last year's, so he says it is best to buy your passes early. The Reno Rodeo is one of northern Nevada's most popular special events, showcasing the western culture.
"100 years of history and tradition and the western way of life, and I think the people come out, they want to be a cowboy and this is 10 days that we allow that," Combs said. "You can come out and be the cowboy and live that western lifestyle."
The Reno Rodeo is also planning for the future. It hopes to replace the current rodeo arena with a new outdoor arena on the northeast side of the property, along with an indoor arena and parking garage. He says the project will do a lot more than just help the rodeo.
"It could bring back a lot of events that used to come here but they've outgrown the facility the way it is now, and with having the new facility and more parking with the parking garage, not only helps out the rodeo but other equine events that wants to come back here," Combs said.
Combs says the project will likely cost around $130-150 million, and it would be a mix of public and private funding. He says a bill in the legislature could fund part of it, as well as agriculture funding from the federal government. He said crews could break ground within two to three years but five to six years might be more realistic.