THE RENO GAY RODEO - KNOWN INTERNATIONALLY AS "THE NATIONAL RENO GAY RODEO"
The idea of a Gay Rodeo was originated by its founder Phil Ragsdale, in 1975. His thought was to have an event to raise money for a local charity. At the same time, help to erase the stereotype of Gays. Early in 1976, he started this adventure and found it would be one of the most difficult projects he would ever be faced with.
Where to have the Reno Gay Rodeo? Where to find the livestock? Upon finding out the earliest possible date at the, then, Washoe County Fairgrounds was October 2nd, 1976, he accepted this date and was then introduced to the Fairground Manager, who was a very understanding and liberal individual. He was very willing to work with Phil. However, the problems that lay ahead were yet to be uncovered .....
Phil contacted the local farmers and ranchers in the Reno area. Not lying, but not telling the full truth, he approached the first rancher and explained that he wanted to rent some of his livestock to put on an Amatuer Rodeo for the Senior Citizens' Annual Thanksgiving Day Feed. He told him it was a "Local Civic Group". The rancher told Phil, he was sure there wouldn't be any problem loaning him the livestock needed. The rancher was amused with the thought of Drugstore Cowboys/Cowgirls putting on a rodeo. The rancher then asked, "Exactly what group is putting on this rodeo?" To which Phil replied, "The Reno Gay Community". At this, the rancher begin finding many excuses for backing out of his oral commitment. This first rejection did not stop Phil. Nor did the next 35 rejections. Phil was determined to see this thing through.
On Friday, October 1st, 1976, still no livestock for the Reno Gay Rodeo. As a last resort, Pnil decided to buy some cows and calves on his own. Phil headed for the auction yards in Fallon, 60 miles to the east of Reno. Only to experience more disappointment. There was a large sign which read, "Auction Every Wednesday". Inquiring at the office, he was referred to a local rancher. Through this rancher, he was able to aquire the livestock needed. Securing a trucking company was his next proolem, at 10 pm, Friday night, he secured a truck to haul the livestock.
Saturday morning, the livestock arrived. The livestock consisted of 5 "wild" range cows, 10 "wild" range calves, 1 pig and 1 Shetland Pony. The numerious Gay organizations who were to run the different concessions arrived. Along with many clowns.
With only 1 large arena, "wild" cows and calves running loose, no holding pens, no chutes, IT WAS RODEO TIME! There was 3 categories - 1. King of the Cowboys [Male] , 2. Queen of the Cowgirls [Femaiie], and 3, Ms. Dusty Spurs [Drag].
Even though the attendance of our: First Reno Gay Rodeo was small, less than 125, through word of mouth and the great efforts of our own Phil Ragsdale, Emperor I, our rodeo has progressed to what it is today. With the combined efforts of a small group of people, the event was bright, colorful and full of fun. Mistakes are made, but we learn each year and improve them.
The categories have now been changed to All Around Cowboy, All Around Cowgirl and Miss Dusty Spurs [Drag]. [At the date of this writting, we do not have any "Drag" contestants.]
And, rather than trying to be like a professional rodeo, we still like to maintain it for ALL! Men and women compete in ALL events, equally. Be it the professional, amatuer or the "novice", maybe it's easier to sum it up as a "Western Gay Day".
The theme for the 1982 NATIONAL RENO GAY RODEO is "WESTERN GAY PRIDE" and we encourage YOU to JOIN US in projecting this theme.
In 1979, Phil met Joseph Sedlack, his lover and Vice President, and together they work all year on this annual event. The work on next years' 1983 NATIONAL RENO GAY RODEO/COUNTRY FAIR started some 3-4 weeks prior to this years' Rodeo!
The NATIONAL RENO GAY RODEO has become an "international event", with visitors from over 14 foreign countries joining us, here in Reno. This year, we welcome some of our guests from Switzerland, England, Germany, France, Sweden and Italy.
Each year, the Rodeo grows bigger and we try to keep up with it, by adding MORE and MORE to it.
Next years' Rodeo/Country Fair will be expanded to, at least 4 days!!
AUGUST 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 1983
We WELCOME ALL LETTERS/COMMENTS.[We've learned from a lot of YOUR COMMENTS.]
CGRA/NRGR * P.O. Box 2372 * Reno, NV. 89505
MR., MS., MISS
NATIONAL RENO GAY RODEO CONTEST
The MR., MS., MISS NATIONAL RENO GAY RODEO CONTEST was founded by CGRA President, Phil Kagsaa.Le, in 1977. As a way to raise money for the MDA, which he started working for, from the Reno Gay Community, in 1974.
That first donation from the Reno Gay Community was a mere $214, but also the first time it had ever been given in the name of Gays.
The contest is now being conducted in over 19 States and several cities within those States. To name a few, are; Nevada, California, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, New York and the "TOP DOLLAR" State, for a second year in a row, TEXAS.
Last years' contests, combined, raised over $35,000, already this year that total has been broken by the Lone Star State of Texas, having raised $35,970.04!! We are projecting a total of over $75,000. will be raised by all those States/Cities, conducting the contest.
All local winners, from each city/state, come to Reno, where they are judged, by a panel of judges, on Friday evening, for; Western Apparel, Appearance and Personality. Those three are then "crowned" MR., MS, and MISS. NATIONAL RENO GAY RODEO, 1982.
So, during the course of the weekend when you see these candidates, stop them and just say, "THANKS", for all the hard work and time that they have contributed to this cause and in the name of Gay people everywhere!
If YOU, would like to get your city involved in this contest, contact the National Director, Mr. Joseph Sedlack, c/o CGRA/NRGR, P.O. Box 23 72, Reno, Nevada 89505-2372. And, full details will be forwarded to you.
To date, over $110.00 has been collected and donated to the MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY ASSOCIATION!!
A VERY SPECIAL REMEMBERANCE......
BEVERLY "BEV" HEDGECOCK
Beverly "Bev" Hedgecock, a true supporter of the National Reno Gay Rodeo, since its beginning, sustained serious head injuries in an automobile accident earlier this year And, we would like to take this moment to say, "We are all praying for your complete recovery and hope that you will be joining us, here at the Rodeo, perhaps next year." Our prayers go, also, to your Lover and family.
"YOU ARE LOVED AND MISSED!"
The price of a standard felt hat at Parker's ranges from $50 to $200. The $200 hats are not easy to come by, as it takes approximately 6 months to get one.
WHAT MAKES THEM SO EXPENSIVE? For one thing, all good cowboy hats are made of beaver fur, just like John B. Stetson's first hat in Colorado.
Hats are rated according to the quality of the beaver fur, with "3X" generally: being the lowest grade and "20X" the highest.
Beaver fur, according to Secret, "is very delicate to work with, but it's the best material there is - it's very waterproof."
Quality - the number of X's - is determined by "where the fur comes from on the beaver's body," he said. "The belly is the best because it's in the water all the time and is very soft."
Stetson gets beaver pelts from all over the world: the U. S., Canada, Japan, the Soviet Union - virtually anywhere beavers are found.
"WHY, ONLY BUDWEISER BEER!"
The Official National Reno Gay Rodeo Beer
When the Reno Gay Rodeo was started in 1976, founder Phil Ragsdale went to the various beer distributors here in the Reno area, to inquire about using their products at the Rodeo.
However, when he approached these companies they would just about laugh him out of their offices, with the idea of a GAY RODEO!! That was until he called on Mr. Joe Morrey, owner of Morrey Distributing Company, Joe simply stated, "I don't care who drinks my beer." And, each year since, he has always been helpful and willing to work with the CGRA/NRGR.
Some of the other beer distibutors, who "laughed" in 1976, are now wanting to "receive a little bit of the action." Rodeo President Phil Ragsdale, stands firm on his commitment and a couple of years back, made Budweiser/Anhauser Bush·Beer, the OFFICAL NATIONAL RENO GAY RODEO BEER!!
So, as their slogan says, "THIS BUD'S FOR YOU!!"
"THE PARKER STET SON"
NAMED AFTER RENO STORE
John B. Stetson crafted the prototype hat some 120 years ago at Pikes Peak, Colo. The hat was made of beaver fur and sold for $5- a high price at the time.
Five dollars wouldn't pay for the tax on some cowboy hats these days. And John B. would be surprised to learn that his hats are riding a high fashion stampede from coast to coast.
"Right now, hats are the biggest sensation in the country", said Harry Parker of Parkers Western Wear in Reno. "Last year was our biggest year in history. This year will be even bigger."
Parker said his store has been selling cowboy hats since 1919 and hasn't had a bad year since 1929. The store has sold so many hats that the Stetson company named one after it: "The Parker".
But Harry Parker said there's been a change in hat buying over the past few years. These days, he said, his main customers aren't cowboys.
"Right now, they come from all over the world. It started with just ranchers and cowboys. Now we get people calling from San Diego and saying "Do you have a Parker?" They're asking for them by name."
Johnny Secrest, sales manager for the Stetson Co. in St. Joseph, Mo., agreed that the stereotype of cowboy hat customer is changing. "Saks Fifth Avenue has its windows full of western wear," he said. "They're wearing hats and boots to college. You go to Madison Avenue in New York and you see businessmen going to work in hats and boots."
Among cowboys, little has changed aside from styles and prices. A cowboy still regards his hat as one of his most prized possessions. A good hat is more than just a hat. In the hot sun it shades you, in the rain-time it will shed the rain. Some will take it off and wave it to move a bunch of horses or cattle.
So. if you would like "The Parker", stop in and see the Parker brotherst, Harry and Mush. And, if it's not in stock, they'll order it for you.
The CGRA/NRGR is PROUD TO HAVE PARKER'S WESTERN WEAR as 4th YE AR SUPPORTERS OF THE GAY RODEO
FIND OUT HOW THE GAY MOVEMENT IS WORKING FOR YOUR CIVIL RIGHT!
NATIONAL GAY TASK FORCE
80 Fifth Avenue
NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10011