I have lived in Reno most of life and have attended the Reno Rodeo many times both as a child and as an adult. It has always been a wonderful experience, and yet I never knew the depth of the work involved to pull off this 10-day event every year.
The rodeo this year runs from June 15-25 and ticket prices depend on the night you go and where you sit. They are easy to find online and the arena holds up to 8,000 people. There is even a Branding Room that includes dinner, music, parking, and tickets that can be reserved each year, usually in April.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Debbie Sprague, who happens to be the first female officer on the executive board of directors for the Reno Rodeo in its 98 years of existence. She was elected to the position of secretary in 2015 and was recently re-elected.
The current officers for the Reno Rodeo are Brad Sidener (president), Bill Summy (first vice president), Mike Torvinen (second vice president), Greg “Lightning” Williams (treasurer), and Debbie Sprague (secretary). This is a huge life commitment for these individuals as they volunteer to meet twice a week all year long to bring this amazing event to our community.
There are also approximately 450 members that work on various committees and another 1,000 people from the community that volunteer. There are many committees that must work to make everything come together. For example, Debbie has been on the Buckles and Jewelry Committee since 1998 and they produce a commemorative buckle for every rodeo.
An individual has spent years helping with the rodeo before they will be considered for an officer position, and all of us in the community should be grateful for their dedication and hard work. Debbie has spent 23 years working to help make the rodeo a success and is committed due to her love of the sport and all of the positive things the rodeo does for the community.
The Reno Rodeo, the fourth largest in the world, is unique in that most rodeos are only two or three days long. Reno’s 10 days of rodeo make it seem almost daunting when you consider all of the events that occur. People attending the rodeo can enjoy the carnival, shopping, food, or watching events like mutton busting, saddle bronc, bareback riding, barrel racing, wagons, motorcycles, wild mustangs, longhorn steers, and of course bull riding. There are approximately 800 cowboys that come to participate from all over the world.
In addition to the participants, there are large numbers of vendors and volunteers and of course, the clowns to protect the riders. A small city forms every night in the arena to make this a wonderful experience for all who attend.
Reno Rodeo is a non-profit organization that donates to the Reno Rodeo Foundation, an organization that gives back to the community in amazing ways. In 2016 alone, they donated $245,000 to various causes and organizations. They have donated to the Denim Drive, Kids Kottage, and Marvin Picollo School (to upgrade their playground to assist their special needs students).
Each year, the rodeo finds a way to reach out to all in the community and this year on Father’s Day, they are hosting a Special Kids Rodeo which will be a mini-rodeo for children with special needs. They will be able to ride horses and experience many events like a real rodeo.
I am grateful I got to look behind the scenes at all it takes to create such a special event for our community. I could feel the energy in Debbie’s voice as she told me about her role on the board and all of the years of participating as a volunteer.
There are so many wonderful things about living in Northern Nevada and the Reno Rodeo is certainly one of them. If you get a chance, get out and support the rodeo this year knowing that the dollars you spend will be going to great causes in our community.
Katie Coombs is the host of the radio show “Uncommon Sense with Katie Coombs.” You can reach her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UncommonSenseKC/.