At the last performance of the World's Oldest Rodeo® in Prescott, Arizona, do you ever feel wistful, knowing that it's the last rodeo in the area for a year? Well, that's about to change.
In the rodeo world, also known as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), the entire country is divided into 12 circuits. There are 20 sanctioned rodeos in Arizona and New Mexico that make up the Turquoise Circuit. Now, for the first time ever, the Turquoise Circuit Rodeo Finals will be held in October at the Prescott Valley Event Center in October. Read the Turquoise Circuit Rodeo Finals press release here.
The Southern New Mexico Sate Fair website explains the Turquoise Circuit:
"The Turquoise Circuit is part of a circuit system that was developed by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA ) in 1975 as a reward system to those cowboys and cowgirls who compete in rodeos regularly, but who can't devote all their time to pursuing a rodeo career and trying to make the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada.
"These circuit cowboys, sometimes referred to as 'weekend warriors' decide to give it their all at rodeos closer to home in order to fulfill personal obligations.
"Each contestant picks a home circuit at the beginning of the rodeo season or is given one based on their hometown. Points earned during the regular season at circuit rodeos count toward the circuit standings at the end of the season. The top cowboys or cowgirl in each event will go on to compete at the Finals of their respective circuit. Those sanctioned events being Bareback Riding, Steer Wrestlin, Tie-Down Roping, Saddle Bronc Riding, Team Roping, Ladies Barrel Race (WPRA) and Bull Riding.
"After all 12 circuit finals, the top contestant in each event from the regular season and the winner at each of the circuit finals will qualify to compete in the Ram National Circuit Finals. Since 1987, first Dodge and now Ram have been a sponsor of all 12 circuits. The Ram National Circuit Finals, formerly held in Pocatello, ID and Oklahoma City, OK, is now held in Kissimmee, Florida every March."
The World’s Oldest Rodeo® takes place the week before the 4th of July - a period of time frequently called Cowboy Christmas. That’s because there are so many other rodeos that week, that an enterprising cowboy or cowgirl will compete in as many as possible. Competitors come from all over the world to participate. Frequently, they drive or fly in, compete and head out to another rodeo within just a few hours. They have no time to enjoy the community, or for the community to get to know them. In order to be successful, the cowboys need to win as much money as they can - their annual earnings determine whether or not they make it to the National Final Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas. The more they compete, the more opportunity they have to win money.
"It's the busiest weekend they have. They're here, but leave as quickly as they have to, not that they want to leave, but because their schedule demands that they have to travel. This will be a little bit different - this is a three day event. They'll be here a couple of days,” explained PRCA Commissioner Karl Stressman.
Turquoise Circuit Rodeo Finals General Manager Mary Borgen emphasized that the two events are not in competition with one another. “They are very different events, and we will absolutely be in cahoots with them to make sure that both rodeos are the best they can be,” she explained.
The competition seen during the World’s Oldest Rodeo® performances is usually only half the competition. That’s one ‘go round’. For the timed events, there’s a second ‘go round’ that typically takes place without the crowds, the entertainment or the announcers. Competitors can get paid on the best ‘go round’, the best for the day or the best all-around in the event for the entire rodeo.
But, the Turquoise Circuit Rodeo Finals is different. It lasts three days, and there are three ‘go rounds’. The competitors come and stay for the entire event, and participate in all three ‘go rounds’. And it will be even more significant this year, because in the past, the Circuit Finals winnings were not calculated as part of the qualifications for the NFR. This year, those earnings will count. That will make the Turquoise Circuit Rodeo Finals more competitive and offer contestants a better chance at the NFR.
Read: Circuit, All American earnings will count in 2017 standings
In recent years, the Turquoise Circuit Rodeo Finals took place in Las Cruces, New Mexico during the Southern New Mexico State Fair. Not being the main event, attendees had to choose to divide their time between the fair, daily entertainment, carnival rides and the rodeo. Moving to the Prescott Valley Event Center will mean the Turquoise Circuit Rodeo Finals is the main attraction.
“All of the cowboys are very excited about the rodeo coming back to Arizona and taking place at the Prescott Valley Events Center. The region is already very well known for its rodeo roots. Now, we will have a world class rodeo competition in a first class, indoor facility. We couldn’t be more excited,” said Charlie Lewis, President, Turquoise Circuit Rodeo Finals.
Charlie Lewis, President of the Turquoise Circuit Rodeo Finals
"Certainly in the Prescott Valley area, it could be just a superior opportunity,” said Stressman. "Again, being who we are, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, ...to have a building like this come to us and say, 'We'd really like to have you all,' is a welcome addition to rodeo, again, I'm not saying that they haven’t [in the past], but it is refreshing to have [an organization and] building that just comes and says, 'We'd like to do this.’”
Stressman said that they will be working with the World’s Oldest Rodeo® organization as they bring the Turquoise Circuit Rodeo Finals to Prescott Valley. “You know, the Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo is a very old, established, great rodeo, 4th of July, been going on over 100 years, we recognize that. Certainly it's one of the premiere rodeos in the country. To move the Circuit Finals here, I think will just enhance the fact that... we've got an awful lot of fans in the State of Arizona… I do believe it will enhance it, I don't believe by any stretch of the imagination that it will have any harm, I think it will be all positive.”
Karl Stressman, Commissioner PCRA Board.
13 Factoids You’ll Want to Know
- World’s Oldest Rodeo® is 130 years old this year
- Turquoise Circuit is 33 years old
- World’s Oldest Rodeo® has 2 ‘go rounds’
- Turquoise Circuit Rodeo Finals has 3 ‘go rounds’
- World’s Oldest Rodeo® has 8 performances
- Turquoise Circuit Rodeo Finals has 3 performances
- World’s Oldest Rodeo® has competitors from all over the world
- Turquoise Circuit Rodeo Finals has competitors from within its circuit
- World’s Oldest Rodeo 2016 total payout: $252,219
- Turquoise Circuit Rodeo Finals total payoff is: $154,000
- Turquoise Circuit Final winners compete in the National Circuit Finals in Kissimmee, Florida in April
- National Circuit Finals total 2016 payout: $704,353
- There will be a Youth Rodeo Camp in Prescott on April 22, 2017 (participants 8 and older, no maximum age)
For more information, check out: How Turquoise Rodeo Finals Came to Prescott Valley Event Center