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Bill Pickett Rodeo returns to Industry July 18-19

CITY OF INDUSTRY— The national Bill Pickett Rodeo that celebrates the legacy of the old black west will take place July 18-19 at the Industry Hills Expo Center here.

Thousands are expected to attend the weekend’s rodeo, which will feature African-American cowboys and cowgirls performing various rodeo maneuvers such as calf roping, bareback riding, and bull dogging.

“If you have never been to a black rodeo and you attend the Bill Pickett Rodeo, you will experience a culture shock because you see actual African-American cowboys, cowgirls and children competing in an environment that you normally do not see,” said Kimi Rhochelle, entertainment publicist at KRPR Media, which handles publicity for the rodeo.

“It is just amazing, and great fun for the family,” Rhochelle said.

This year’s rodeo will honor the memory of its founder Lu Vason, who died in May of complications from a heart condition at age 76.

Vason was inspired to create the rodeo in 1984 to end the false perceptions that there were no black cowboys and cowgirls in the Old West. The rodeo is named after arguably the most popular African-American rodeo performer Bill Pickett, who died in 1932 and was the first rodeo athlete inducted into the Black Cowboy Walk of Fame in Denver, Colo., in 1996.

“Without Lu Vason’s vision, I don’t know if we would all be able to assemble enough African American cowboys and cowgirls,” said Regina Wilson, executive director of California Black Media.

“It is a way for inner-city youth to know the role that African-American cowboys and cowgirls played in the history of rodeo,” Wilson said.

The two-day event also includes fitness games with prizes provided by California Blue Shield, and onsite health screenings sponsored by the Black Beauty Shop Health Foundation.

The 31st annual rodeo also provides African-American high school and college students that are pursuing a career in rodeo with the opportunity to become the next Bill Pickett through the Bill Pickett Memorial Scholarship Fund.

This weekend’s event will be held at 16200 Temple Ave, City of Industry. For more information, visit billpickettrodeo.com.