Most rodeos are certainly entertaining and impressionable, but if you’re looking to amp up the experience with a little more than your average grit, you MUST get to Winnemucca for their annual Ranch Hand Rodeo. Truly one of the most exciting rodeos in Nevada, the Ranch Hand Rodeo takes the polished fluff out of this iconic event in the American West, focusing on the day-to-day, unfiltered hard work.
Typically held at the end of February each year, huge crowds from all over Nevada and many surrounding states come to Winnemucca’s Events Complex to watch over 30 teams compete for bragging rights and prizes in some seriously manly events. Forget the pony parade and rodeo queen crowning ceremonies, here, the crowd will devote their attention to events like Saddle Bronc Riding with wild horses, Calf Roping, Cow Dog Trials, Team Roping, Cow Mugging, Trailer Loading, Team Branding, Ranch Doctoring, and Women’s Steer Stopping. While all of these events clearly have no problem commanding every ounce of your attention, the real show stopper is the Wild Horse Race. During this raw event, wild horses that have never been saddled are haltered in a chute with a long lead rope. Two cowboys hold on to the end of the rope in attempt to control the horse, while the third member of the team slaps a saddle on the bronc, and the final rider jumps on and rides the horse! Several teams compete at one time, making this event a rodeo in itself.
While all of these events are exciting to say the very least, one of the more prestigious, polished events is the Ranch, Rope & Performance Horse Sale. Here, impressive stock horses draw ranchers from all over the Western United States in hopes of purchasing a quality horse to execute ranch work. In years past, around 40 horses are auctioned, with top selling horses even going for a mind-numbing $26,500. Best yet, World Championship Auctioneer, Rick Machado hosts the event. The best part? This intimate area totally ensures that there truly is no bad seat in the house.
The Western States Ranch Rodeo Association [WSRRA] began with one vision in mind: to allow the full-time, working buckaroos to have an opportunity to compete in a sanctioned rodeo event. For years, other associations have catered to only the full-time ranch-hand competitor, leaving a large gap for those who work full-time in other professions. By including full time ranch cowboys, smaller ranches and part-time cowboy contenders, the WSRRA considerably enriches the ranch rodeo sport, bringing in fresh talent, showcasing skills that were perhaps unknown to audiences, while encouraging seniors, women and youths to participate in a family atmosphere. By continuing to expand opportunities for ranch rodeo competitors, the WSRRA guarantees that ranch rodeo heritage will continue for generations to come.
At the end of the event, awards are distributed to the Top Teams, the Top Ranch Hand and the Calcutta winner. If you’re looking for a taste of some authentic American West with some genuine buckaroos and tons of excitement, you’ve gotta get to Winnemucca’s Ranch Hand Rodeo. After all, they don't call this part of Nevada Cowboy Country for nothin’.
***Tickets available at the door
From downtown Winnemucca, head northeast on W. Winnemucca Blvd toward Bridge Street for a ½ mile. Veer right onto E. Winnemucca Blvd and turn left onto Fairgrounds Road. This road will lead you directly to the Humboldt County Fairgrounds and the Winnemucca Events Complex.