RODEO: Pecos rodeo has nothing to hide

PECOS In ProRodeo, there are just some trophies that cowboys are eager to show off.

Obviously, the most prestigious is the gold buckle, awarded each year to that season’s world champions. Beyond that, there are only a handful that truly stand out, whether it’s the storied silver from the Cheyenne (Wyoming) Frontier Days or winning on the grass at the Pendleton (Oregon) Round-Up or owning the unique style of the Dodge City (Kansas) Roundup.

One of the most prized is the West of the Pecos buckle, one that’s engraved by the sport’s history and sandblasted by the tens of thousands of cowboys that have toiled in this west Texas dirt. There’s a uniqueness to that buckle, and generations of world champions have had their jeans cinched by their Pecos medal, one that serves as a symbol that they have been the very best at the “World’s First Rodeo.”

Hundreds of others will get their chance at this year’s West of the Pecos Rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 26-Saturday, June 29, at Buck Jackson Arena in Pecos.

That includes a few residents that will test their skills in ways ProRodeo’s stars won’t by being part of events like the Hide Race, the Wild Cow Milking or the West of the Pecos Team Roping Classic.

“Those local events are an opportunity for people to be part of the rodeo in a small way,” said Brenda McKinney, a longtime member of the volunteer group that produces the annual event. “If they’re not volunteers, they can say that they performed in the Wild Cow Milking or the Hide Race in the arena during the big West of the Pecos Rodeo.

“It’s pride for them, too, that they can partake in some of the events and still be part of our performances.”

While the team roping takes place days before the opening of the ProRodeo, the top 12 tandems return to compete in the performance on the final night of the rodeo.

“It’s a big deal for our locals who win those events to get that West of the Pecos buckle,” McKinney said. “We’re very happy to have some local events. They’re always a big draw. The Hide Race has always been a big draw.”

It’s an exciting tradition, especially for family members and friends of those competing. The Hide Race is consistently part of the Thursday night rodeo performance, while the Wild Cow Milking takes place Wednesday night. The bulk of the team roping will take place Saturday, June 22.

“The team roping just continues to grow,” McKinney said. “Many years ago, the PRCA allowed locals to enter our rodeo, and we had a lot of local ropers that entered our PRCA team roping. When the PRCA changed that, we started the concept for the classic team roping a long time ago.

“There have been a few rodeo committees that have followed suit. We’re pretty proud that we created something and hope it’s as successful for them as it has been for us.”