Real working cowboys are saddling up for the 35th annual Cowpunchers Reunion Rodeo. The rodeo takes place Friday through Sunday at the Williams Rodeo Grounds, 800 Rodeo Road.
Rodeo performances start at 1 p.m. daily. All participants work on ranches or have retired from ranch work but maintain a close relationship with ranching, said Arizona Cowpuncher's Reunion Association Secretary Trina Runston of Valle.
"(The idea) kind of came from just some cowboys that thought it would be a neat idea to kind of recreate some of the old time rodeos from the early 20s and 30s when they started having those events," Runston said. "They tried to keep the events based on things that happened on the ranch."
About 800 people are involved in the Arizona Cowpuncher's Reunion Association. Runston expects more than 1,000 people from Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, California and Nevada to compete in the rodeo.
Events include bronc riding, team roping, calf roping, wild cow milking, wild horse racing, and kids steer riding.
Kids dummy roping will take place Saturday with signup at 10:30 a.m. and roping at 11 a.m. This event is open to all kids.
The bronc riders in the Cowpunchers Rodeo don't have to use a standard type of saddle.
"They use just their everyday ranch saddles, not association saddles that the professional cowboys use," Runston said.
Runston said this rodeo is different from other rodeos because the whole family can participate. Twelve and younger roping teams will participate, as well as 60 and older teams.
This rodeo is also unique because of the reunion aspect, Runston said.
"It's just a lot of friends that are in the same type of business getting together and it just makes it kind of special," she said. "It's just kind of a big family."
The Arizona Cowpunchers will put on a barn dance on Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the tan barn at the rodeo grounds. The Jed Morrison Band will provide the music. Admission is $5 per person, and kids ages 10 and younger get in for free.
A Cowboy Church Service will take place at 9:30 a.m. Sunday in the grandstands.
The Calcutta Auction will take place Saturday at 6:30 p.m. under the Boot Barn Calcutta Tent. People can bid on bronc riders and Calcutta 5 steer team roping teams. The people who buy the teams that end up winning the next day will win money.
Attendees can also buy tickets to win a registered Angus bull or a $2,500 cash prize for those who have no need for a bull. Hardesty Cattle Co. donated the bull, which will be on display at the rodeo. Tickets are $50 each with one free ticket for every $100 spent. The drawing will be Sunday during the final rodeo performance.
The proceeds from the auction and raffle benefit the Arizona Cowpuncher's Scholarship Organization and the Cowpuncher's Crisis Fund. The organization uses the Crisis Fund for families that need extra help because of illness, injury or another crisis situation.
The rodeo will also feature vendors selling jewelry, western wear, saddles and bridles and custom boots. Food vendors will also be at the event.
Admission to the rodeo is $5 per person, and kids ages 10 and younger get in for free. Tickets are available at the gate or in advance at the Williams Visitor Center, 200 W. Railroad Ave. Seating and parking are available on a first come first served basis.