From the Setup to the Silver Spurs, 9+ Things to Know About Reno Rodeo

As the 2022 Reno Rodeo gets underway, so does the summer run; learn more about what makes this iconic venue unique in the world of rodeo.
The longest running event in the city's history, Reno Rodeo is celebrating its 102nd anniversary in 2022.

Summer is almost here! Always known as the unofficial kick off to the lucrative summer run, the Reno Rodeo begins on June 16 with an Xtreme Bulls performance before the NFR Playoff Series rodeo begins with the first of nine performances on Friday, June 17.

The Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West has a total committee purse of $457,500 with $62,500 going to Women’s Professional Rodeo Association barrel racers and $20,000 to WPRA breakaway ropers, and annually awards the coveted Reno Rodeo Silver Spurs to the champions.

JJ Hampton won the Reno Rodeo silver spurs in 2021 when she topped both preliminary rounds, the finals and the aggregate with a total on three of 6.7 seconds.

With huge nightly crowds—more than 140,000 annually—packing into the Reno-Sparks Livestock Event Center’s outdoor arena, the perfs are a loud, raucous experience for contestants, making Reno a favorite stop for many competitors.

Here are more facts about the Reno Rodeo:

1. History

  • Reno Rodeo is celebrating its 102nd rodeo in 2022—it is the city’s longest-running special event. It began in 1919 as a celebration of the end of World War I and was called the Nevada Round-Up in the beginning. A non-profit organization, Reno Rodeo is made up of more than 1,000 volunteers.
  • Cattle rustler turned artist Will James made his first commercial sale to the inaugural Nevada Round-Up in 1919; he was paid to create artwork to promote the first event. He continued to provide artwork for Reno Rodeo programs for several years.
  • Girls Rodeo Association (precursor to the modern day WPRA) World Champion Sammy Fancher, now Brackenbury, was the first Reno Rodeo Champion Barrel Racer, earning the title in 1960. As Sammy Fancher-Thurman, she won again in 1964 and 1971. Charmayne James and Fancher-Thurman are the only barrel racers to win three Reno Rodeo barrel racing titles while Kristie Peterson has the record at four.

2. Doing Good for Others

  • Reno Rodeo has an estimated $42 million economic impact to the community. Beyond that, through the Reno Rodeo Foundation, the event supports literacy, higher education, and improved quality of life for kids in need through a number of initiatives such as the Reading Round-Up, Rodeo Wish and the Denim Drive. In addition to the rodeo, funds are raised through the sale of Rodeo License Plates to Nevada drivers.

3. Plenty to Do

  • The Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive kicks off the events when it ends its five-day run through the High Desert at the Event Center on the rodeo’s opening day. Up to 60 guests can sign up to be a part of the drive which brings 300 rodeo steers from Doyle, California to Reno.
  • The Event Center is a whirlwind of activity throughout the 10-day rodeo. In addition to a drill team competition, kick-off concert, shopping and carnival, the indoor arena hosts events every day from team ropings, breakaway ropings, barrel racing, mutton bustin’ and the Premier Horse Sale on the final day. Over the years, such famous events as the Bob Feist Invitational (BFI) Team Roping, Reno Rodeo Barrel Futurity and World’s Greatest Roper competitions have coincided with the Reno Rodeo.
The 2021 Reno Rodeo team roping champions Derrick Begay and Cory Petska.

4. The Set-Up

  • All events, except bull riding, are two long rounds with a top-12 short go on Saturday, June 25. Timed events compete in the first round during the morning slack each day with the second round happening in the nightly performance.
  • Up until 2012, Reno barrel racers began their runs from the north end of the arena, with the left barrel in front of the bucking chutes. In 2012, the committee flipped the competition, having the barrel racers begin from the timed event chutes on the south end. Either way, there’s a long run to the first barrel and only the third is close to a fence inside the huge arena, making a barrel-hunting horse a necessity if you want to win money in Reno.

5. The Players

  • Reno Rodeo takes 96 entries in all events except the bareback and saddle bronc riding where entries are limited to 48.

6. Spurs for More than One Pair of Boots

  • Miller is a two-time Reno Rodeo Champ, one of only seven ladies to win more than one Reno title. The others are Sammy (Fancher) Thurman, Lynn Schricker, Gail Tyson, Jan Hansen, Charmayne James, and Kristie Peterson.
  • Only Tyson (1978-79), Hansen (80-81), Peterson (1997-99), and Miller have repeated in back-to-back years. Charmayne James holds a unique record, winning in both 1984 and 1988, back-to-back WPRA victories as Reno was one of a handful of events that was unable to meet the WPRA’s equal money requirements beginning in 1985. Reno hosted an open barrel race known as the Nevada Open in 1985-87.

7. A Crowning Accomplishment

  • Nevada native Cathy Cagliari holds a unique piece of Reno Rodeo history. Cagliari won the barrel racing during the 1989 rodeo. The following year, Cagliari was named Miss Reno Rodeo—she competed in the barrel racing again, this time finishing second behind her aunt Wilma Hyrbarger, who was riding her mother Wanda’s horse.

8. SixPac Bonus

  • For many years, Reno Rodeo has been the culmination of the California SixPac. Comprised of Oakdale, Red Bluff, Clovis, Redding, Hayward, Livermore and Reno, points are awarded at each stop and the high-point winner earns $4,000 and a buckle.

9. Speedy Track

  • The Reno Rodeo has always had a fast track with numerous WPRA barrel racers clocking sub-seventeen second runs before it was as commonplace as today. In fact, Terri Kaye Kirkland holds the arena record, a 16.73-second run from the second go round of the 2006 Reno Rodeo en route to earning her pair of Reno spurs.
  • Hailey Kinsel and Wenda Johnson upped the ante on the blazing fast track in 2021. During the Saturday night short go round, Kinsel stopped the clock at 16.74 seconds to finish ahead of Johnson’s 16.99. Johnson had won the second round with her wicked 16.85, just a breath quicker than Kinsel’s 16.97.
  • Johnson edged Kinsel in the average by two one-hundredths of a seconds to win her first Reno title and set the new arena record for the three-run average at 50.92 seconds. For the record, Kinsel’s 50.94 was also faster than the previous mark of 51.11, set by Mary Burger (2008) and Lindsay Sears (2009).