Williams will be full of cowboys and cowgirls this weekend as the city plays host to the annual Labor Day PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) Rodeo.
Rodeo action will begin Friday night and run through Monday. The annual Labor Day parade will march through downtown Williams Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. For Bob Dean, rodeo organizer and namesake of the Bob Dean Rodeo Grounds, this year's event will mark his 15th consecutive year with the PRCA Rodeo.
"It's a professional rodeo, it's Williams' only professional sport," Dean said. "It's the PRCA Rodeo and WPRA Barrel Racing (Williams Professional Rodeo Association) and we're having junior barrel racing this year for girls 17 and under. If any of the girls want to enter that, they can just call me and I'll tell them how to enter."
Dean said "all" the events for a great PRCA Rodeo will be offered over Labor Day Weekend, including bareback riding, steer wrestling, calf roping (tie down roping), saddle bronc riding, barrel racing, bull riding and team roping.
"We'll have some of the best cowboys in the country here," Dean said. "The Rodeo Committee is hard at work getting everything ready for it."
The Labor Day PRCA Rodeo is part of the Turquoise Rodeo Circuit, which includes New Mexico and Arizona. Finals for the Turquoise Circuit are held in New Mexico. Williams counts as the cutoff for cowboys and cowgirls to make the circuit finals, Dean said.
"A lot of them, if they're close, they come here to compete to make the finals," he said.
A regional tour barrel race will also be held on Friday night, beginning at 7 p.m. Friday night's event is free for all to attend, Dean said. Tickets prices for the three-day Labor Day PRCA Rodeo are $10 for adults and $5 for children.
"It's good entertainment, family entertainment," Dean said. "Our rodeo grounds, what people like about it, you're sitting right there at the arena. The grandstand is right close at the arena, so you're right there at the rodeo. We have our covers up, too, so you've got shade."
Preparing for the rodeo, Dean said, is typically "a year's work." Dean and his wife, Peggy, go to Las Vegas in December to hire contractors for the rodeo, which includes announcers, bull fighters, rodeo clowns, stock contractors and more. Preparing the Bob Dean Rodeo Grounds for the event also takes up much of the committee members' time.
"We have a quad-drill team coming in too, we're setting up corrals for them," Dean said. "Those are the gals that ride in formation. They'll be performing."
While the Labor Day Weekend festivities will begin with a parade Saturday at 10 a.m., the rodeo itself will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Food and refreshments, provided by the Williams Kiwanis Club, will also be available. Drawings will also be held for a steer and two bicycles that were donated by the Williams Grand Canyon Masonic Lodge No. 38.
"People that buy a rodeo program, my wife will sign one of them, and whoever buys that program with her signature in it wins a bicycle," Dean said.
Though Dean has been organizing the rodeo in Williams for 15 consecutive years, he organized a prior rodeo as well, as part of the Bill Williams Mountain Men. The Williams Lions Club also once operated the rodeo, Dean said.
"We went nine years without a professional rodeo here," Dean said. "Tom Kelley was with the chamber at the time and a couple business men got me cornered at coffee one morning and wanted me to put on a rodeo. We did that and it's been going ever since. I thought that, after two or three years, someone else was going to take it over - one of these organizations, but no one has taken it over yet."
Williams Grand Canyon Masonic Lodge No. 38 representative Danny Harness said the Masons were happy to help support the Labor Day PRCA Rodeo.
"The Masons are supporting the rodeo by being one of the sponsors for the scholarship," Harness said.
Harness is also a member of the rodeo committee in Williams. "The Masons do public schools. Public schools need children; children need education, so we bought a sponsorship to support the scholarship through the rodeo. It's just like the ones we give away with the Masons. They have to fill out an application at the school. We have that scholarship day there where the kids all sign up and we're just sponsoring the money for it in the name of the rodeo and we'll have a big Masons sign up there."
Rodeo committee members will also provide a VIP tent for the rodeo's sponsors, Dean said.
"We really take care of our sponsors, because without our sponsors we can't put on this thing at all," he said.
Over 50 sponsors have come out for the 2008 PRCA Labor Day Rodeo, Dean said, including Coors and Pepsi.
"This town really gets behind us and we really support the people that do sponsor," he said. "Some of them that have been with us since we started is the Canyon Club and the Sultana, National Bank of Arizona and Denny's/Clover Hill Shell, Rosa's Cantina, Railside RV Park, Pearson Construction and a bunch of them, APS, a bunch of them really help. And the city, they're great."
More information on the PRCA Rodeo can be found online at www.williamschamber.com or by calling Dean at (928) 600-5049.