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By Lillian Landreth

The Lone Star State is home to a number of world-class rodeos, among them the Mesquite Championship Rodeo.

The rodeo sets itself apart as a continuous pro rodeo event, a form of Cowboy Christmas all summer long with performances every Saturday night from June through August. At least 1,600 contestants come down the alleyway or burst out of the chutes throughout an average season, and was able to keep the tradition going in 2020.

Taylor Hanchey catching calves in Mesquite for the win.

Photo credit: Ken Carmona / IMAGEHOUNDS

This type of permanent rodeo was part of the vision Neal Gay and Jim Shoulders had when they started the Mesquite Championship Rodeo in 1957. It ran every Friday and Saturday year-round, and as the pastures of Mesquite began to fill in between the town and Dallas some 14miles away, the rodeo decided to move forward as an indoor event. They moved into their present building in 1986 and held the rodeo every Friday and Saturday from April to September.

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Their indoor, air-conditioned arena draws audiences in from the Texas heat and onto the arena dirt to meet the cowboys and cowgirls competing that weekend, or they can meet the bullfighterson the concourse. Rodeo fans can also take backstage tours, watch the action from the 8 Second Club, and partake of Texas barbecue. In the future, the rodeo plans to return to hosting concerts throughout the season to get boots stomping again, as well as the traditional rodeo parade that heralds the start of the rodeo. Given that the city hosts more rodeo events than any other in the state, Mesquite’s tireless dedication to the sport earned it the distinction as the Official Rodeo Capital of Texas as of 1993.It was also named the 2020 PRCA Small Rodeo of the Year and 2020 Texas Small Rodeo of the Year.

Photo credit: Ken Carmona / IMAGEHOUNDS

About the author…

Lillian Landreth is a freelance writer and editor. She particularly enjoys writing about rodeo and the extraordinary people and animals who make the lifestyle fascinating. The author of more than 1,000 stories, her writing has appeared in the Rodeo News; The Ketchpen, published by the Rodeo Historical Society and National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum; and local newspapers. She is also working on her #rst novel. When she’s not writing, Lily enjoys riding with the Snake River Stampeders night light drill team, coaching the EhCapa Bareback Riders, a PRCA specialty act, and teaching horseback riding lessons. She makes her home in Southwest Idaho with her entrepreneurial husband, their dog, horse, and cows.

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