Labor Day weekend events in Williams include the famous locally-organized Labor Day PRCA Rodeo, which has gained popularity over the years as being one of the best shows in the entire southwest.
A yearly tradition, the Labor Day PRCA Rodeo at the Bob Dean Rodeo Grounds in Williams kicks off Friday with a divisional tour barrel race at 7 p.m.
Then, starting at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, the rodeo action revs up into high gear with performances such as bareback riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, saddle-bronc riding, team roping, barrel racing with the Women’s Professional Barrel Racing Association, and the always popular bull riding. Also appearing will be the world-renowned Bill Williams Mountain Men, both at the start of ceremonies at the rodeo on Saturday and at the parade earlier the same day.
Western-themed and fine art vendors will be on hand for those who wish to shop, and something new this year will be three trick riders performing each of the above three days.
Two PRCA judges will judging rough stock events and everything on the west side of the arena will be timed. Most days will run until 4-4:30 p.m. with the cook shack run by the Williams Kiwanis Club and a rodeo dance at the World Famous Sultana Bar at 9 p.m. on Saturday night. Prizes will be given out all weekend and Monday is Wrangler Day, where drawings will occur through programs signed by Bob and Peggy Dean.
“It’s a big-time rodeo in a small town,” says Bob Dean, head of the Williams Labor Day PRCA Rodeo Committee, and he’s right.
The rodeo has increased in popularity over the years to be seen as one of the best all year, and the grounds themselves have won numerous prizes for being the best kept and the best place to keep a competition animal. With an average of over 200 participants each year, both contestants and spectators will be coming from all around the surrounding states to enjoy the festivities.
Dean is no stranger to rodeos and neither is his family. He used to be team roper and bareback rider himself, Peggy’s father, Dutch Van Brunt, is featured on the event logo. In fact, five generations of the Dean family have been involved with the rodeo in some way and Bob’s own granddaughter, Carley Rowe Billington, will have her debut at the Labor Day Parade on horseback.
Dean says there may be as much as a $30,000 pot for the winners, depending on how many entries there are.
One-day tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for kids. Three-day passes are $24 for adults, and $12 for kids. Those who buy any Wrangler product from any western store in Williams or Flagstaff will receive a free entry voucher.
Saturday at 10 a.m. marks the start of the 2004 Labor Day PRCA Parade. A whopping 27 entries have signed up so far with more expected.
Entries include rodeo queens, floats, equestrian entries, the Williams High School Viking Band, canine entries, rodeo clowns, and more.
Three honored WWII Navajo code-talkers, Merril Sandoval, Alfred Peaches, and Keith Little, will be the parade’s grand marshals, and long-time Williams resident and ex-Williams Police Department officer Robbie Smith will ride as the parade’s Honorary Grand Marshal.
Arizona Public Service is sponsoring prizes for “Best of” categories in the parade, and the event starts at Ninth Street, running along Route 66 until Pine Street. The theme for the parade will be “Let Freedom Ring.”
The weekend is also a big one for the traveling Smithsonian exhibit “Yesterday’s Tomorrows.” Starting Thursday, the exhibit will feature “Playrooms of the Past, Present, and Future” designed by local kids with games like jacks, marbles, hop scotch, jump rope, and hula-hoop. Starting on Friday, the portion of Third Street between Route 66 and Railroad Avenue will be closed off for the popular mobile playground, Kid’s Zone, featuring a bounce house, a slide, a balloon house, and cotton candy. Free for all Williams and Parks kids, Kid’s Zone will operate Friday from 2-6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday from 1-6 p.m.
Finally, the First Assembly of God church in Williams is putting on a Labor Day weekend free country gospel concert starting on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. featuring Kenny Munds, who has played with the likes of Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. Their event will also feature award winning Navajo jeweler Tommy Jackson, whose work has been seen at the Phoenix Heard Museum and the Pueblo Indian Gallery.
So, don’t go anywhere, y’all, because good times for the holiday weekend are all right here in Williams.