Conceived for charity; Rodeo has now become a source of Gay Pride, education and the best in country western entertainment.
The Court system in Reno, Nevada held the first event labled as a Rodeo and in four short years, Reno's Rodeo became big entertainment. By 1981 the obscure City of Denver became aware of the Reno Rodeo with about 20 people attending! The winner of the Miss Reno National Gay Rodeo title inadvertantly offered a challenge to Denver centered around Denver's lack of participation. That small challenge led to the formation of Gay Rodeo as we know it today.
The Colorado Gay Rodeo Association, formed in 1981, pushed its high energy out to every state that would listen. They traveled to Texas hoping to get a rodeo started in Southern Mid America. Colorado made a high profile appearance at the Reno Rodeo in 1982, which featured celebrities Joan Rivers, Sharon McKnight, and Ed Bruce.
Colorado's overtures to Texas resulted in the formation of the Texas Gay Rodeo Association in 1983 following Colorado's 1st Annual Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo. Growth has been phenominal from that point. Texas staged their 1st rodeo in the fall of 1984 and new state associations were forming throughout the West. California created the Golden State Gay Rodeo Association (G.S.G.R.A.) and their 1st rodeo in the spring of 1985
1985 was a very active year for the rodeo movement. The Arizona Gay Rodeo Association (A.G.R.A.) formed and in January they hosted the formation meeting of today's International Gay Rodeo Association (I.G.R.A.). The 2nd I.G.R.A. meeting was held in March 1985 in Denver with elections of Board of Directors and Trustees. September saw the 1st I.G.R.A. Convention in Denver and the formation of Oklahoma Gay Rodeo Association (O.G.R.A.), our 5th association. THe five states spaced their rodeo dates and set the I.G.R.A. circuit year from November 1st to October 31st.
With the year established - Texas kicked of with their 2nd Rodeo (The 1st I.G.R.A. sanctioned rodeo) followed in January by Arizona's 1st Rodeo and on to California for their 2nd in March. Now we are here attending the 4th Annual Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo (1st under I.G.R.A. sanctioned rules).
Apparently the growth has just begun - New associations have been formed and are applying for official I.G.R.A. membership. Missouri Gay Rodeo Association (M.G.R.A.) and Kansas Gay Rodeo Association (K.G.R.A.) are formed and have joined with O.G.R.A. to co-host the next scheduled rodeo - The Great Plains Regional Rodeo, in Oklahoma City August 15, 16, & 17.
New Mexico Gay Rodeo Association has also formed and is applying for I.G.R.A. membership. The 2nd I.G.R.A. Convention scheduled for September 25, 26, 27, & 28 in Denver will see growing pains as I.G.R.A. attempts to set new goals in education and entertainment for the Gay Rodeo Community.
The sport of gymkhana dates back to the early European sporting events. Webster defines gymkhana as a noun, meaning timed contests for automobiles featuring a series of events designed to test driving skills.
As each athletic sport evolved, gymkhana was incorporated to fit that event. From tennis to rodeo, it gives the individual the chance to train and sharpen the skills of their sport. Particularly to the horseman it provides an excellent opportunity to hone in on timing and skills that would make improvements on the rodeo circuit.
Colorado has had the great pleasure bringing gymkhana to the gay rodeo circuit. The founders of this day recognized the need to train for the rodeo but unselfishly saw a need to bring the community together as a whole. Thus people events were incorporated into this great time together. From the beginning the competition was intense and very dramatic. Early days featured mud pits, for the tug-of-war. Pies in the face and bellies full of beer meant good clean fun for all in attendance.
Oklahoma City has added a new word and a new facet to an already busy day. 1985 saw the 1st O.G.R.A. Extravaganza staged. Booths of food, games and souvenirs were added and a day full of entertainment by our own clogging clubs and featured the talents of Dena Kaye and T.K. Express.
O.G.R.A. staged its second Extravaganza this April with a phenomenal increase in interest and the size of the project. Wichita, Kansas followed suit in early May with astounding success.
Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo is pleased to have many of the entertainers from this new form of Country Western good times with us here this week end.
From the many clogging groups that form the core and the excitement of this new rodeo related entertainment, of particular note are the Grip Sisters (comprised mainly of the Dallas Sidekicks with help from Wichita Rocking R Cloggers). Our hats are off to all the clogging groups for their high energy performances.
Square dancing has been considered less of a spectator spellbinder, but Denver Mile High Squares and Rocky Mountain Rainbeaus along with the Midnight Ramblers and Albuquerque's Wilde Bunch (A Flying Square) have begun changing that image with their high-tempo shows.
A lot of talent is beginning to surface with many great voices and combinations of voices. Following the success of the Dena Kaye Show are newcomers Fred Doty and Rod Henry. New in Denver this year are Satin and Lace and East Purdue. These two combine for Mile High Hoe Down! You should also get an opportunity to hear the great T.K. Express, Sherry Kimmerling, Marge MeLeon, and Wes Meyers.
We highly encourage you to watch for your communities next Gymkhana Extravaganza for the best in good times and great entertainment.