Lead Story Sports West Edition

Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo returns for 33rd year

INDUSTRY — It’s time to grab your boots, a cowboy hat, leather belt, a T-shirt and blue jeans, because the 33rd annual Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo is coming to the Industry Hills Expo Center July 15 and 16.

Serving as the nation’s only touring black rodeo competition, the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo celebrates the country’s top black cowboys and cowgirls displaying their skills in bareback riding, bull dogging, bull riding and other competitions

Among this year’s competitors are 2016 winners all returning to fight for their titles. They include Tory Johnson (all around cowboy), Kanesha Jackson (all around cowgirl), Lamontre Hosley (bareback champion), Tory Johnson (steer wrestling champion), C.J. Demetry (calf-roping champion), Dayna Carter (ladies steer undecorating champion), Kanesha Jackson (ladies barrel racing champion), Tyree Kossie (bull-riding champion), Tyree Kossie (bull riding champion), and Dayna Carter (rookie cowgirl).

The junior barrel racing returning champions include Kortnee Solomon, Lindon Demery and Harrel Williams Jr.

According to Margo Wade LaDrew, national program director of the Bill Pickett Rodeo, first-time rodeo spectators can enjoy “the excitement of being at the event and seeing so many African American families enjoying a day of fun.”

“To see real black cowboys and cowgirls and especially the little barrel racers, it is not just a rodeo, it is an event that fans look forward to seeing every year,” LaDrew added. “The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo has stopped in Los Angeles on the third weekend of July for the past 33 years and we hope to keep coming for another 30.”

The rodeo is named after Bill Pickett, a black cowboy and rodeo performer at the turn of the 20th century who invented bull-dogging, the skill of grabbing cattle by the horns and wrestling them to the ground. By 1905 he had joined the 101 Ranch Wild West Show and toured with Buffalo Bill Cody, Will Rogers and Tom Mix. He even appeared in a couple of movies during the silent movie era.

He died in 1932 after being kicked in the head by a bronco.

The Bill Pickett Rodeo was started in 1984 by Lu Vason, whose goal was to preserve positive images of African Americans in the west while teaching the importance of sportsmanship, integrity, perseverance and diligence. Though Vason passed away in 2015 at the age of 76, his mission to celebrate the legacy of Pickett and provide a safe, educational and fun event for families lives on.

The Bill Pickett Rodeo begins at 6:30 p.m. July 15 and at 3:30 p.m. July 16.

The Industry Hills Expo Center is located at 16200 Temple Ave. in the city of Industry, just north of the Pomona (60) Freeway at Azusa Avenue.

Advanced tickets are $20 for children and $25 for adults. They may be purchased online at http://www.billpickettrodeo.com/index.php/tickets/los-angeles-ca-tickets. Tickets at the gate are $25 and $30.

Information: (310) 674-6700.