KINGMAN - This weekend's slate of events will feature traditions old and new, all aimed at celebrating what makes Kingman ... well, Kingman. And while the Best of the West on 66 Festival will occupy most of downtown, a mainstay of Kingman will buck along as it has for three decades.
It's the 31st Annual Andy Devine Days PRCA Rodeo, and it kicks off at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Mohave County Fairgrounds. Don't let the title fool you: this rodeo has roots to old ranch hand and cowboy competitions dating back to 1872, when the first herds of Texas cattle made their way into Mohave County.
The event residents will see on Saturday night started out as a Labor Day rodeo hosted by the county in 1919. The rodeo arena at the time was located right next to the Powerhouse, where Locomotive Park is now. The rodeo eventually shared the stage with a mining competition, and from 1938 to 1951 the "Dig-n-Dogie Days" ushered in fall for county residents.
The rodeo became a PRCA-sanctioned event in the late 1960s, when the JayCees sponsored the "Los Companeros Days" rodeo. Eventually, the event was tied in to the Andy Devine Days and has taken place at the fairgrounds ever since.
Rodeo fans will have plenty of events to enjoy, including: bareback bronc riding, steer wrestling, stagecoach, saddle bronc riding, the outhouse race, mutton busting, tie down roping, drill team, team roping, barrel racing and bull riding.
The Andy Devine Days Rodeo is a special local rodeo in that it takes place on the last weekend of qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. The NFR is a 10-day competition in December and is often referred to as the "World Series of Rodeo," with a total prize pool often exceeding $6 million.
"I talked to the stock contractor. Without checking the standings, he believes we have 15 to 20 in top standings that are in here for a rodeo," said Ray Cullison, president of the Kingsmen. "Every dollar earned goes towards qualifying for the NFR."
For those looking to keep track of points, each run (called a "go-round") is scored by two judges out of a total of 100 points. 25 points per judge are awarded based on the rider, and another 25 points per judge are awarded based on the animal.
The rodeo will run until 9 p.m. on Saturday, with a barn dance held in the building just behind the grandstands immediately after.
Food and drinks will be available, and local country artist Briana Payne will be performing.
Gates will open back up again at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, with the rodeo continuing at 1 p.m.
Putting together the rodeo is a big undertaking for the Kingsmen, who have done it since the 1980s.
"Some of the challenges are just to put together a rodeo from scratch every year, building an arena and just getting everybody on the same page to put on a production together of this size," said Cullison. "I'm looking forward to seeing a packed house and everybody just being happy that we're having an evening rodeo and a dance afterwards."
While the rodeo will be taking place at the same time as events for the Best of the West Festival, Cullison doesn't see the festival eating into their attendance numbers, saying that the goals are the same: to bring "good entertainment that is affordable to a family" to Kingman.