The Working Ranch Cowboys Association holds the World Championship Ranch Rodeo each November in Amarillo, TX. Despite the pandemic in 2020, with some modifications, the event persevered; its’ hard to stop a pack of cowboys.
If you’re a rancher, or have any interest in the lifestyle, this event is perfect for you. Unlike the NFR, this gathering includes the “real cowboys”. The glitz and glam is left behind while the true talent and personality shines through.
The 4-day rodeo and accompanying attractions were held at the Civic Center in downtown Amarillo, November 12-15. Additional events included the cowboy trade show, youth ranch horse competition, WRCF benefit auction, as well as small concerts and appearances.
Bull riding and barrel racing are not included in the events, instead replaced with more practical ranching practices like branding and sorting. At no time on a real ranch would you jump on a 2000+lb bull to see if you could ride it, at least not sober anyway. It doesn’t accomplish anything. Same thing with saddling up your best horse just to run it around three barrels. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy all rodeos and I also love competition. If bull riding or barrel racing are your passion, that’s fine. If your heart races and your adrenalin soars when you watch or even participate, that’s fine too. The point is these events, although sometimes awesome, don’t have a place on a ranch or any livestock operation.
The participants are just normal guys (or gals). They’re not out there promoting themselves or doing interviews around the clock; they’re out working. And when they come to town, they fit right in with the rest of us ranchers. They’re humble and polite and hope to win some new gear after sacrificing their clean shirts and custom shaped cowboy hats at every performance for the good of the ranch team.
You’ll feel safe surrounded by the working ranch community. Competitors and spectators alike are a trusted breed. I do recommend using some common sense- there can be a bad egg anywhere, but the chances are reduced in this environment. After several trips to the WRCA Ranch Rodeo, we have never worried about our kids. Yes, we keep tabs on them, but I’m never afraid for them. A trip to Vegas or the NFR, I wouldn’t let them out of my sight- even at ages 11 and 15. Here we let them rope with newly made friends, walk through the trade show, or go the restroom unattended.
Even with an altered schedule and some events modified, the long weekend is loaded with activities. We could barely find a time to explore the rest of the city or relax in our hotel, because we didn’t want to miss anything happening at the Civic Center; we barely left to eat. Prior the start of the events, we made a quick trip to Palo Duro Canyon.
We watched the actual rodeo 3 of the 6 times (We left town prior to the last 2). We did lots of shopping and browsing, watched the ranch horse competition, met new people and visited with great people along the way. We just embraced being submerged in the cowboy atmosphere.