PECOS, Texas – Trav Windham and Morg Livingston were handy cowboys working cattle ranches in west Texas.
On July 4, 1883, the two joined other hands from area ranches to see who was the best, and the first rodeo competition took place on land that now houses the courthouse and law enforcement buildings. The celebration continues 130 years later with the annual West of the Pecos Rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 26-Saturday, June 29, at Buck Jackson Arena.
“The cowboys like coming because of the tradition,” said Joe Keese, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo. “We do lot of things at our rodeo that are to the cowboys’ benefit, and I think they like that.”
It’s been that way for better than a century. When the first competition took place, it was supposed to be a match to test the talents of Windham and Livingston. When word spread, other cowboys helped make the world’s first rodeo.
“When that day came, there were horses, wagons, people walking – coming from all directions to see what was going to happen,” said a historical tidbit on the rodeo’s website, PecosRodeo.com.
“We’re very blessed to be part of the tradition of the West of the Pecos Rodeo,” said Pete Carr, owner of Carr Pro Rodeo and Pete Carr’s Classic ProRodeo, the firms that will produce the Pecos rodeo. “This is truly one of the great rodeos.”
It goes back to that day 13 decades ago, when Windham won steer roping by roping and tying his steer in 22 seconds, according to the historical piece. Livingston later beat Windham in a matched roping, and reports indicated that cowboys by the name of Pate Beard and Jeff Chism walked away with the honors.
The West of the Pecos Rodeo has been held annually every summer since 1936 and became sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in the early 1970s. Since then, it has been recognized as one of the best events in ProRodeo and features hundreds of the top cowboys in the land.
“Pecos is special to me because it’s the rodeo where I filled my permit,” said Trevor Brazile, a 17-time world champion from Decatur, Texas. “It has every event, which a lot of rodeos don’t have. It was the first rodeo, and they stayed true to so many traditions, from the long scores to the walking fresh cattle – a lot of rodeos don’t do that anymore, but you have to give those calves time to get out, then you have to have keep your horse situated. Most of the horses are used to just going, so it’s really a showcase of those great horses.”
Brazile is a walking history of the sport himself. He owns a record 10 all-around gold buckles and has earned world titles in each of the events in which he competes: team roping-heading, tie-down roping and steer roping. He is just the second cowboy in ProRodeo history to have qualified for the National Finals in all four roping disciplines, including a 1998 trip to Las Vegas in team roping-heeling.
“It’s a fun rodeo to compete at and a fun rodeo to watch,” Brazile said. “At this rodeo, it’s wild.”