Until the turn of the century, early rodeos were informal events – exhibition matches of skill, with nothing but pride and perhaps a few wagers at stake. But as audiences grew, promoters began to organize annual contests in specific locations as well as traveling Western shows.
Rodeo organizations remained fragmented until the late 1920s, when the Rodeo Association of America, comprised of rodeo committees and promoters from across the U.S., named its first champions.
The first true national cowboys’ organization emerged in 1936, when a group of cowboys and cowgirls left a performance at Madison Square Garden and boycotted the promoter’s next rodeo, in Boston Garden. They forced one of the biggest rodeo producers of the times, Col. W.T. Johnson, to listen to their demands for better prize money and judges who understood rodeo. Johnson gave in, under duress, and the Cowboys’ Turtle Association was born – a name they picked because they had been slow to act, but had fi nally stuck their necks out for their cause.
In 1945, the Turtles became the Rodeo Cowboys Association (RCA), which in 1975 evolved into the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. The PRCA has experienced tremendous growth in terms of membership, national exposure, media coverage and sanctioned rodeos. Today, the PRCA boasts nearly 7,000 members (4,782 of whom are currently contestants) and sanctions a little more than 600 rodeos a year. The PRCA headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., which includes the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy, opened in 1979.
In 2015, more than $46 million was paid out in prize money at PRCA rodeos, a figure the Turtles might never have dreamed possible. In addition, ProRodeo is telecast to more than 56 million households.
ProRodeo continues to bridge the traditions of the old West with the tools of the 21st century: Rodeo fans keep up to date with their favorite human and animal athletes by subscribing to the PRCA’s
ProRodeo Sports News magazine and logging on to www.ProRodeo.com and using Facebook.
Class of 2020
Cody Ohl- Tie Down Roping, All Around
Martha Jose- Barrell Racing
Jim Sutton - Stock Contractor
Sonni Deb Backstrum- Contract Personnel
Butch Kirby- Bull Riding
Randy White- Notable
G-65 Grated Coconut- Livestock
Ellensburg Rodeo- Rodeo Committee
AAEP: American Association of Equine Practitioners
AJRA: American Junior Rodeo Association
AQHA: American Quarter Horse Association
AQHYA: American Quarter Horse Youth Association
BFI: Bob Feist Invitational Team Roping Classic
CFR: Canadian Finals Rodeo
CNFR: College National Finals Rodeo
CPRA: Canadian Professional Rodeo Association
DNCFR: Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo, now known as the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo
DVM: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
INFR: Indian National Finals Rodeo
JCCF: Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund
LVE: Las Vegas Events
MRA: Miss Rodeo America
NFR: Wrangler National Finals Rodeo
NFSR: Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping
NHSFR: National High School Finals Rodeo
NHSRA: National High School Rodeo Association
NIRA: National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association
NLBRA: National Little Britches Rodeo Association
NSPRA: National Senior Pro Rodeo Association (formerly the National Old-Timers Rodeo Association)
PBR: Professional Bull Riders
PRCA: Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association
PSN: ProRodeo Sports News
RCA: Rodeo Cowboys Association, the predecessor to the PRCA
RNCFR: RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo (formerly the DNCFR, Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo)
USTRC: United States Team Roping Championships
WJHFR: Wrangler Junior High Finals Rodeo
WNFR: Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (same as NFR)
WPRA: Women’s Professional Rodeo Association