Team Roper Kreece Thompson from Munday, Texas saddles his horse prior to Friday nights rodeo in Preston on Friday July 29, 2022.
PRESTON – The 86th annual celebration of That Famous Preston Night Rodeo began on July 28 and runs through July 30.
The parade starts at 6:30 p.m. and the grand entry for the rodeo begins at 8:15 p.m. each evening with the first shoot opening at 8:30 p.m.
This year’s Grand Marshall is Rhonda Phillips.
This is Preston’s biggest event of the year: three full days of horses, ropes, barrels, and bulls. Year after year there are loads of action, entertainment, carnival rides and sidewalk sales for visitors to enjoy.
This year they have finished enlarging both sides of the arena with aluminum seating with larger seats and seats for handicapped individuals.
They also put wide screen televisions in the Lions and Kiwanis hamburger stands so people don’t miss a bit of rodeo action while they are standing in line.
“We’ve enlarged our arena by 1,400 and we’re selling about 6,600 tickets per night,” said Ann Cheney of the rodeo ticket office. “We have special handicapped seating available if they contact us and we know they are coming.”
The jumbotron is back so no matter where the audience is they won’t miss the action.
“The pre-rodeo entertainment will be the RC Flagging Team,” said Cheryl Kimball, a rodeo committee member. “Eighteen riders carrying American flags, most from the Bear Lake area, will ride around the arena. They do a great job.”
People will want to be in their seats at 8:15 p.m. to see the show.
Kris Beckstead, the chairman of the rodeo committee, said they had some great cowboys riding last night and during slack this morning.
“Every year we have some of the top cowboys in the country perform at our rodeo and this year is no different,” she said, “Last night, Stetson Wright rode. He is number one in Bull Riding and number three in Saddle Bronc Riding and the best overall cowboy in the country.”
Little kids were following Wright around and asking for his autograph. His career earnings is almost $1.5 million.
Besides the rodeo there is a sidewalk sale going on. Approximately 70 vendors line downtown State Street and the area around Benson Park with food and crafts. There will also be some of the best local entertainers the county has to offer singing on stage in the park.
The nightly parade generally highlights local groups and businesses and some of the area’s best horses and horsemen.
Locals refer to it as the million-dollar weekend for Preston. With thousands of people attending the rodeo and festivities each day, plus all the cowboys in town to competing for nearly $100,000 in prize money, the financial impact to the town adds up quickly.
More folks return to Preston during rodeo weekend than any other event, even Christmas. People schedule family and class reunions at rodeo time because they know people are going to be in town.
The rodeo has been voted the best rodeo in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Wilderness Circuit for the last eight years. The Wilderness Circuit includes rodeos in Idaho, Utah and Nevada.
Preston’s rodeo not only attracts the best cowboys in the country because the livestock is so choice, but the crowd is also always loud, enthusiastic and they get involved.
This year’s bull fighter and clown is back again. J.J. Harrison will entertain the crowd and make sure the cowboys are safe from bulls and broncs.
Harrison has been the PRCA clown at National Finals Rodeo for the last couple of years.
This year’s announcer is Andy Seiler. He has been at That Famous Preston Night Rodeo before, and he is a real crowd pleaser and he has earned a number of professional awards for his announcing ability.
The biggest reason for the success of the rodeo is the hundreds of local volunteers that work hard to ensure everything goes smoothly.