A Message From President / Producer
Valeria Howard-Cunningham

We are in the Month of September, which brings us a couple of activities such as the  transition from the Summer season into Fall, the return to school and college for many, celebration of Labor Day; the most exciting to me, is the Championship Rodeo Finals for the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo.

Seeing the beginning of the season transition as longer days begin to shorten, cooler temperatures start appearing and the care free spirit of the summer disappears, we start to refocus on life, school and work objectives. September is clearly a time to hit the reset button; review your goals/objectives and determine if you are on track.  It is a time to refresh, show your  Gratitude for your blessings and focus on all the Positive  things to come.

We are extremely excited and grateful to be a blessing to fans across the country!

BPIR’s focus is now the Championship Rodeo Finals in Washington, DC/Upper Marlboro on September 21 st at 1:30pm and 7:30pm at The Showplace Arena, 14900 Pennsylvania Avenue in Upper Marlboro.  

This year,we celebrate and honor 35 years of BPIR and our African American Cowboys and Cowgirls who have made significate contributions along the way  They have traveled the country to educate and entertain audiences about the roles of the Black Cowboy and Cowgirl in the development of the West. They showcase their rodeo skills and passion for the sport. BPIR provides the platform for them to compete on a national level and make a difference. They provide truths of American history not taught or recognized.

There is a spirit of excitement and a huge amount of energy as we gear up for the Championship rodeo. We eagerly await the crowning of our 2019 World BPIR Champions in Bareback Riding, Bull Dogging, Tie Down Roping, Ladies Steer Undecorating, Ladies Barrel Racing and Bull Riding.  The competition will be fast paced, intense and with high energy as they compete to become Champion in their respective events.

I hope you can join us and see the 2019 champions crowned; Black History continues!

Thank you for being a part of the BPIR community. 


The coordinators for the BPIR Championship Finals are Greg Freeman for Maryland and DC area and Mansfield Montague for Virginia area.
Born and raised in a small town in the rural south (Glennville, Ga) to be a farm hand or laborer, I knew my education, worth ethics and religious upbringing would allow me to see more than the fields I grew up working. After high school I was blessed to able to attend college (GA State University) on both academic and athletic scholarships, yet I knew the military was the better choice for my career and desire to see the world. I joined the Air Force where I eventually retired after 23 years as a Master Sargent. Those military years of my life allowed me the opportunity to see the world. That exposure, in addition to my positive upbringing, certainly gave me a different perspective about diversity, the awareness that my culture and ethnic heritage were unique and of value. But more importantly, in my upbringing I was taught to be humble and have respect and empathy for others. Currently I am also blessed to be employed at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) as an Assistant Chief Engineer.

I first heard about the Bill Pickett Rodeo about 24 years ago, several years after I got involved with horseback riding. I would hear the guys and gals talking about it so much that I just had to attend. It was a remarkable experience and immediately reminded me of my upbringing and the heritage and influence of my parents and grandparents. Respect was written all over my face when I left that arena. Never had I seen a whole group of African Americans coming together to celebrate that unique cultural and valued heritage. All I could think about was this was what it must have felt like to have attended a Negro Leagues Baseball game, which were a little before my time. Today, I still wish I had that opportunity. The Bill Pickett Rodeo was the first time I saw a majority African American spectator group saluting the US Flag, proudly claiming their (our) claim to being a historical part of America. I’ve been speaking and teaching at school programs, colleges, community centers and churches emphasizing the “History of African Americans and The Civilization of The West” ever since. 

Today, of course, I am proud resident of Prince Georges County, MD and currently serve as one of the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo Coordinators (Washington DC). I continue to be amazed by the excited patrons who share that same interest in celebration of our heritage. It gives me no greater joy than to serve our seniors during this event. To assist and greet our many seniors, some of whom come from far away on buses just to witness something that they thought they would never see is a very surreal and rewarding experience! That could be my mother, father or grandparents on that bus; so, they always get the best I can give. It’s almost like I am helping them fulfill their “Bucket List”.
Mansfield, “Monty” as some call him, proudly serves as one of the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo Coordinators for the Washington DC area.  Mansfield’s passion for horses began at a young age when he helped his grandfather plow fields with horses and mules, and tend the farm animals.  Later, he was involved with mentoring youth in 4-H and transporting them to horse shows and events.  Mansfield’s enthusiasm for horses is well-known.  He’s the guy with all the horse emblems on the side of his truck who gives many, many “pony rides” with his horses at family reunions, church picnics, and community events.  He has personally introduced hundreds of people to horsemanship by inviting them over to his house and letting them ride his horses.  Strangers have become friends, and friends have become equine enthusiasts.  For many, this was their first experience seeing a black cowboy or even standing close to a horse.  For others, this has led to “living the cowboy or cowgirl lifestyle” as horse owners. Mansfield has been there throughout their journey to help them pick out their first horse, trailer, or barn; or to help them learn to drive a tractor or back up their horse trailer.  He gives of himself and his time freely in the service of others.

Mansfield is a well-respected leader in our community.  He is the current President of the United Horsemen’s Association of Fredericksburg Virginia.  He has served in this capacity for twenty years.  As President and friend, he mentors us by sharing his real-life experiences and practical knowledge of horses and everything related to them. His ongoing support helps us all to be the best we can be on our own!  He is self-less in his efforts, never seeking to be acknowledged or recognized personally.

Mansfield is a Trustee, Usher, and life-long member of Mt. Hope Baptist Church in Stafford (Brooke) Virginia.  Mansfield was one of the first African-American volunteer fire fighters in Stafford County, and has volunteered continuously with the Fire Department since that time.  He is a small business owner operating Montague Trucking Incorporated. Mansfield works closely with Stafford County and the surrounding jurisdictions for large animal rescue and transport.  

Mansfield inherited his strong work ethic and concern for others from his parents and grandparents. He is always willing to lend a hand to those in need and is often the last to leave when there is work to be done. Mansfield is the proud father of two daughters, Nina and Rene, and has four grandchildren.  He is also a proud United States Army Veteran of the Vietnam War.

“If I can do anything to be a blessing and be the best representation of my ancestry by giving something back in my blessed life, the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo is truly providing me with that opportunity. Long live this event! I shall never see the Negro League games live, but the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo is probably as close as I’ll get to being able to both promote and celebrate our legacy and unique values as my ancestors did before me,”  Freeman.

“The United Horsemen’s Association is proud to be an annual sponsor of the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo. Our partnership with BPIR helps us to raise awareness of the contributions in horsemanship made by African Americans; to positively influence the lives of youth by fostering their interest in horses and equestrian activities and the avoidance of alcohol and drugs; and to fellowship with horse owners and enthusiasts for civic and social activities to build stronger communities.Congratulations to BPIR on 35 years of Kickin’ in the dirt! We look forward to many more years of rodeo excitement,”  Montague

photos by Gary Roberson
The 35th Bill Picket Rodeo Finale!
Toyota, Ariat and Yeti
Celebrates The Champions
The Greatest Show on Dirt – IS HERE!

Five states, 6 cities and it all comes down to this!  Who is the best cowboy/cowgirl?  

The Greatest Show on Dirt rides into Upper Marlboro, Md for the final showdown on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at The Show Place Arena located at 14900 Pennsylvania Ave, Upper Marlboro, MD.

Through heat, storms, photoshoots, interviews, celebrities, and sold out crowds, The 35 th Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo (BPIR) has traveled the United States with cowboys/cowgirls competing to make it to this final stop.  Who will be the BPIR World Champion cowboy and cowgirl?

On September 21, 2019 thousands of spectators’ young and old and from all over the world will watch over 50 black cowboys and cowgirls compete in nine major rodeo events labeled as “The Greatest Show on Dirt.” The events are Bare Back Ridin’, Bull Doggin’, Calf Ropin’, Ladies Steer Undecoratin’, Ladies Barrel Racin’, Jr. Barrel Racin’, Jr. Break Away, Relay Racin’, Bareback Ridin” and Bull Ridin’ —all absolutely spectacular!

The prize?   Legendary fame as The World Champion of the historic 35 th Bill Pickett Rodeo, added money of $35,000, prizes such as saddles, breast collars, signature buckles, official souvenir jackets, Ariat boots, Yeti Coolers and more.

BPIR Championship Finals activities include the following:

FRIDAY - September 20, 2019 
Showplace Arena 

Cowboy & Cowgirl Lunch Banquet
Showplace Arena Banquet Room

8:00pm until
Colony South Hotel & Conference Center Lounge/Bar
SATURDAY - September 21, 2019
Showplace Arena
1:30pm Performance
7:30pm Performance

Showplace Arena
10:30 pm (after the rodeo)
Ladies Barrel Racing & Ladies Steer Undecorating
New to the BPIR in 2019, but has been a fierce competitor in the world of rodeo for many years.  Krishaun prayed and asked God for a horse she could win on, and he delivered. She has placed at every BPIR rodeo she attended this year. She is definitely one to keep an eye on at the BPIR Championship Finals and years to come. She will be electrifying! 
Mikala Neely 
Ladies Barrel Racing & Ladies Steer Undecorating
Kiowa, Colorado 
Reigning BPIR World Champion Barrel Racer.  Mikala began traveling and competing with the BPIR full time in 2016. Since setting her sites on the world title, she has accomplished her goals each of the past two years. Confident in her riding game, she is determined to remain #1, making the finals a showdown between the top 5 contenders. The competition will be intense.
Jeremy Burkhalter 
Steer Wrestling/Calf Roping 2019 finalist 
Eufaula, Okla 
New to the BPIR in 2019, Jeremy is making up for lost time. A previous high school superstar athlete in football and basketball.  Rodeo is no exception for him. Jeremy decided to travel and rodeo with the BPIR tour in 2019. Winning in two events at the biggest rodeos of the year was his way to say I am here and hopefully would help to ensure himself a spot at the BPIR Championship Finals. Well, that is exactly what happen. Jeremy is coming into the finals as the #2 man, which simply means the #1 man better bring his "A" game. Jeremy is now the quarterback of his own one-man team and has every intention of beating Justin Richard to walk away with the ultimate BPIR All-Around Cowboy for 2019. The competition has never been this exciting.
Justin Richard 
Steer Wrestling/ Calf Roping/ Bull Riding 
Houston, Texas 
Justin is no stranger to the BPIR. After a long hiatus from the organization, he decided he would give it another shot. He is BACK!  He has excelled in each of his 3 events during the 2019 tour. After winning countless rounds in each event he finds himself in the #1 spot. Justin has made it clear, he still got it and will be on his “A” game at the finals. Justin is a threat to walk away with several BPIR titles in 2019. Keep your eyes out for this cowboy. 
Harold Miller
Lamontre Hosely 
Tank Adams 
Jason Griffin 

Kenny Autman 
Justin Richard
Drew Madden
James Taylor 
Troy Ford
Charles Barrett
Jeremy Burkhalter 
Jeremy Burkhalter 
Wefus Tyus
Rodney Demery 

Jeremy Burkhalter
Justin Dan 
Matthew Sloan 
Harrel Williams 
TJ Hewitt
Justin Richard 
Deon Osborne 
Malik Gatson 
Johnny Howard 
Derek Goff
Deshaunna Loud 
Azja Bryant 
Denesha Henderson 
Jasmine Bennett
Krishaun Adair
Denise Tyus 
Dayna Carter 
Jay Carter
Carolyn Carter 
Raemia Clemons 

Savannah Roberts
Mikala Nealy 
Krishaun Adair 
Aleeyah Roberts 
Carolyn Carter
Jay Carter 
Denesha Henderson 
Danielle Clark 
Raemia Clemons 
Kortnee Solomon 
Savannah Roberts
Kortnee Solomon 
Lindon Demery 
Harrel Williams Jr 

Harrel Williams Jr 
Linden Demery 

Justin Richard 
Tyree Kossie
Tank Adams 
photos by Gary Roberson
The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo is extremely proud to mention  National Sponsors Toyota Ariat, Yeti, Upscale Magazine and  Bronner Brothers.   

“Toyota celebrates the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo for its contributions to highlighting the history of African American's in the West and for educating Americans about the true diversity of the American West," 
Alva Adams-Mason Director Multicultural Business Alliance and Strategy & Senior Manager, Dealers Relations.

"Ariat is proud to partner with an organization that enables men and women to be competitive and pursue their passion for rodeo."We have so much respect for the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo and are honored to be able to do even more as we expand our support this year."  Susan Alcala, Vice President, Ariat Partnership Marketing. 

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