Reno Rodeo
June 16 - 25, 2016
Here are three things you might not know about the Reno Rodeo

1. Cattle rustler turned artist

In 1919, Charles Mapes Sr., paid a local cowboy who had once done time in Nevada State Prison for cattle rustling the princely sum of $20 to create artwork that could be used to help promote the inaugural Nevada Round-Up, the event that is today known as the Reno Rodeo.

The artist happily accepted the money and it marked the first commercial sale of artwork for Will James.

James would go on to write and illustrate more than 20 books and numerous magazine articles, becoming one of the country's best-known and best-loved western authors and artists.

His artwork graced the covers of early Reno Rodeo programs and remains much coveted today, more than 70 years after his death in 1942.

2. A presidential invitation

In 1922, the rodeo's fathers came up with an idea to invite President Warren G. Harding to attend the rodeo - and to garner publicity for the city in the process.

The rodeo queen, Mary Harrington was sent by train to Washington, D.C., to personally invite the president to attend the rodeo. Harrington was to send telegrams from her journey and her dispatches were followed in not only Reno's newspapers, but others as well. In Chicago, she was met by a throng of newspaper reporters.

Harrington arrived in Washington, D.C., and was met by Nevada U.S. Sen. Tasker Oddie and his wife. From there, the party went to meet the president and Harrington presented Harding with a large cowboy hat and the invitation to the rodeo. Unfortunately, Harding had to decline the invitation as his wife was ill.

To make matters worse, the cost of Harrington's trip ended up bankrupting the Reno Rodeo Association, forcing the cancellation of the event for several years, until the bills could be paid.


3. A savior and a sustainer

After the Reno Rodeo's financial troubles of the 1920s, local hotel man Charles Sadleir spearheaded the effort to bring the event back to life in 1932.

In 1935, he led the effort to start the Reno Rodeo and Livestock Association to oversee the rodeo, and it was Sadleir who came up with the idea to solicit local businesses to help underwrite the cost of putting on the rodeo. The effort built the foundation of the modern day Reno Rodeo.

Sadleir, the namesake of the street that leads to the Reno Livestock Events Center, was president of the Reno Rodeo Association from 1935 to 1948.

In 1950, the title of president went to local lumberman and lifelong rodeo supporter Ray Peterson.

Known as "Mr. President," Peterson served in the role for 12 years and led the rodeo through unprecedented growth.

An avid horseman, he rode in every Reno Rodeo parade until his death in 1979. His sons, Bob and Ray Jr., grew up on the rodeo grounds and followed their father's footsteps into the Reno Rodeo Association. Bob Peterson served as the group's president in 1971.

Best Regards, Kelly