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Bandera's Ranch Rodeo continues cowboy traditions

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

A few years ago, the Frontier Times Museum decided to host a rodeo in conjunction with Bandera's National Day of the American Cowboy celebration. And, according to museum directors, a "gen-u-ine" Ranch Rodeo seemed the way to go.

The museum directors made a wise decision because both the National Day of the American Cowboy - and its accompanying Ranch Rodeo - are still going strong. This year's arena action, sponsored by Bandera First State Bank, takes place at 8 pm, Friday and Saturday, July 27 and 28, at Mansfield Park on Highway 16 North.

Gates open at 6 pm.

Typically, ranch rodeos consist of a working cowboy's everyday duties that include calf branding, steer loading, steer roping and wild cow milking.

The Bandera event serves as a qualifying preliminary to the South Texas Ranch Rodeo Finals traditionally held during the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. This family-friendly competition should not be missed.

"We began our research and decided if we were going to do this every year, we might as well make it the best Ranch Rodeo we could," recalled Johnny Boyle, then board president. For guidance, the museum's board of directors went right to the horse's mouth, so to speak, consulting with members of the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo Association.

"Their response was immediate," Boyle said. "They were very interested to include Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World, as part of their circuit."

The rodeo proved so exciting that in 2010, museum president George Sharman expanded the event to two days. "We wanted to stay close to our community's roots and support the ranching industry here in Bandera," Sharman said. "A Ranch Rodeo honors the true spirit of the American cowboy."

Triple R Rodeo will again serve as producer for the 2012 event. During the first Ranch Rodeo, Triple R Producer Jim Gates said, "We have had more teams sign up for Bandera than for other rodeos on the circuit. Two nights of Ranch Rodeos will be great excitement!"

Established in 1986, Triple R Rodeo's authentic Ranch Rodeos provide an exciting and entertaining view of the cowboy way, representing traditional ranching heritage.

Ranch rodeos' roots run deep in the soil of the West. Some have it they began in the late 1800s when Buffalo Bill Cody summoned cowboys from around the country to compete in ranching skills. Apparently a multitude of competitors showed up.

Everyone had such a great time that Cody decided to take the show on the road. Thus were the beginnings of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show that toured the globe from 1883 to 1908, sharing the history of the west with the world.

The contemporary Ranch Rodeo tradition had its beginnings in spring roundups. Competing informally, cowboys wagered on who was the fastest roper and the best horse breaker, among other ranching activities. In Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, large ranches encouraged "cowboy contests" in roping, riding and horse breaking.

The modern sport of rodeo evolved from the contests initiated in the late 19th century. Across the nation, large ranches continued the highly competitive tradition of ranch rodeos.

In 2008, area ranchers, veterinarians and cowboys formed the South Texas Ranch Rodeo Association (STRRA). The finals are held in conjunction with the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.

A volunteer organization, STRRA raises scholarship funds for Texas youth - particularly those who compete in collegiate rodeo athletics. The association also promotes South Texas' ranching heritage by supporting businesses that assist ranching towns and that further the education of students from ranching backgrounds. The Bandera Frontier Times Museum is honored to be a part of their team, noted Sharman.

Last year's competitors included Briscoe Ranch, Carrizo Springs; Hutton Cattle Company, Boerne; M&M Cattle Company, Victoria; Runnels Pierce Ranch, Yoakum; Rancho La Fe, Crystal City; Chaparral Ranch, Uvalde; Solomon Cattle Company, Falfurrias; South Texas Cattle Marketing, Pearsall; Wexford Ranch, Goliad; Paloma Cattle Company, Tilden; and Flying B Ranch, Rivera.

"Don't miss this exciting look back at the Old West," said a museum spokesman.

Tickets can be purchased at


by clicking on "The National Day of the American Cowboy" or at the gate.

Pictured: Courtesy photo
This working ranch team competed at a previous Ranch Rodeo held in conjunction with Bandera's National Day of the American Cowboy celebration.

Photo by Chris Darus
Along with the South Texas Ranch Rodeo, the Dude Ranch Rodeo, the always-exciting Mutton Bustin' competition will take place at Mansfield Park on July 27 and 28, as part of the National Day of the American Cowboy in Bandera.