Cowpunchers Reunion Rodeo returns to Williams June 21-23

Cowpunchers Reunion Rodeo returns to Williams June 21-23. (Loretta Yerian/WGCN)

Cowpunchers Reunion Rodeo returns to Williams June 21-23. (Loretta Yerian/WGCN)

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — The 41st annual Cowpunchers Reunion Rodeo, a thrill packed competition that showcases traditional cowboy skills, returns to the Williams Rodeo Grounds June 21-23.

For the past 41 years, rodeo events have been based around the everyday life of working cowboys and their families. This year’s events kick off Friday afternoon and continue through the weekend. Performances include cowboy bronc riding, where participants ride broncs with a saddle. Also on the line up of events is wild cow roping, ribbon roping, team roping and calf roping. Gates open daily at 1 p.m. at the Williams Rodeo Grounds. A gymkhana will be held Thursday morning at 10 a.m.

This year’s rodeo has a few new events, including ladies’ breakaway roping and the wild horse race. The wild cow race has been discontinued.

Besides the rodeo itself, there will be vendors, food and entertainment. The Brianna Payne Band will perform at the barn dance Friday and Saturday nights from 8 p.m. — midnight at the rodeo grounds. The cost of the dance is $5 for members and $10 for non-members. A bar providing alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks will be available at the dance. Wristbands will be issued to those over 21.

Rodeo performances start at 1 p.m. each day with gates opening at 11 a.m. Admission is $5, and those aged 10 and younger are free. There is a $5 fee to park at the rodeo grounds.

About 300 people are expected to compete in the rodeo events. While the majority of the competitors are from Arizona, some will also come from Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

Arizona Cowpunchers is unique and structured for families. The event includes ribbon roping for young girls and women, with other activities for boys.

Most participants live in remote locations and use the rodeo as a reunion to catch up with other ranchers who have become like family.

Some of the highlights of the rodeo performances include ribbon roping, team roping, steer riding and wild horse racing, in which competitors saddle and ride a horse that has never been ridden before.

Events are different than typical rodeos. Bronc riding is different in that a cowboy saddle is used, and calf roping doesn’t use a neck rope or horn knot.

Another unique event is wild cow milking, in which one team member ropes the cow, another one holds the cow steady and a third milks the cow.

Events will have cash prizes and competitors can win buckles and brush collars.

The Calcutta Auction will take place at 5:30 p.m. June 22 and benefits the Cowpuncher’s Crisis and Scholarship Fund. The Crisis Fund is an emergency fund for any cowboys who are injured at a ranch and need help with medical bills and other expenses. The scholarship fund is for new college students.

On Sunday at 9:30 a.m., a cowboy church service will take place in the grandstands. Everyone is welcome to attend. Vendors will be set up from about 10 a.m. until after the rodeo performance and will be selling food, jewelry, T-shirts, leather and more.

More information is available from Carrie Gross at (602) 510-4940 or email cowpunchers@outlook.com.

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