Prairie Arenas held some of the first rodeos | TheFencePost.com

Prairie Arenas held some of the first rodeos

Cheryl Wilkinson
Gering, Neb.

The photos show a rodeo in the year 1919. In the late 1930 and early 1940 baseball games were the main events in these Prairie Arenas.

The Roman amphitheaters had nothing on our Prairie Arenas. Their gladitorial events and shows usually ended in a cruel death to either animal or humans. Our prairie arenas of the early 1900s ended with “whose pasture do we meet in next time.”

Neighbors, families, and friends were all notified by word of mouth of the next rodeo, race, or ball game to be carried out in someone’s pasture. Lunches were packed and barrels of water were hauled to the next designated sports event in the heart of the Sandhills.

The arenas were a few acres of level ground usually ringed by Sandhills. They were in an easily available place for the early 1900s cars or for a wagon or anyone horseback. If a rodeo was to be held the vehicles formed a large circle with the fronts of the cars facing into the circle so that a bucking bronc could not escape. The onlookers sat on the front of the cars. If a bucking bronc headed their way the small kids were grabbed and everyone scrambled to get in the car.

At one of these rodeos I remember a bronc jumping between and over two cars and running off into the hills before it was caught.

If a ball game was held the cars parked to the back and sides of the arena nearer to home plate. Women and children played ball as well as the men. Sometimes the women competed against the men and often times won. Sometimes the young people played against women or men and also won.

The Roman amphitheaters had nothing on our Prairie Arenas. Their gladitorial events and shows usually ended in a cruel death to either animal or humans. Our prairie arenas of the early 1900s ended with “whose pasture do we meet in next time.”

Recommended Stories For You

Neighbors, families, and friends were all notified by word of mouth of the next rodeo, race, or ball game to be carried out in someone’s pasture. Lunches were packed and barrels of water were hauled to the next designated sports event in the heart of the Sandhills.

The arenas were a few acres of level ground usually ringed by Sandhills. They were in an easily available place for the early 1900s cars or for a wagon or anyone horseback. If a rodeo was to be held the vehicles formed a large circle with the fronts of the cars facing into the circle so that a bucking bronc could not escape. The onlookers sat on the front of the cars. If a bucking bronc headed their way the small kids were grabbed and everyone scrambled to get in the car.

At one of these rodeos I remember a bronc jumping between and over two cars and running off into the hills before it was caught.

If a ball game was held the cars parked to the back and sides of the arena nearer to home plate. Women and children played ball as well as the men. Sometimes the women competed against the men and often times won. Sometimes the young people played against women or men and also won.

The Roman amphitheaters had nothing on our Prairie Arenas. Their gladitorial events and shows usually ended in a cruel death to either animal or humans. Our prairie arenas of the early 1900s ended with “whose pasture do we meet in next time.”

Neighbors, families, and friends were all notified by word of mouth of the next rodeo, race, or ball game to be carried out in someone’s pasture. Lunches were packed and barrels of water were hauled to the next designated sports event in the heart of the Sandhills.

The arenas were a few acres of level ground usually ringed by Sandhills. They were in an easily available place for the early 1900s cars or for a wagon or anyone horseback. If a rodeo was to be held the vehicles formed a large circle with the fronts of the cars facing into the circle so that a bucking bronc could not escape. The onlookers sat on the front of the cars. If a bucking bronc headed their way the small kids were grabbed and everyone scrambled to get in the car.

At one of these rodeos I remember a bronc jumping between and over two cars and running off into the hills before it was caught.

If a ball game was held the cars parked to the back and sides of the arena nearer to home plate. Women and children played ball as well as the men. Sometimes the women competed against the men and often times won. Sometimes the young people played against women or men and also won.