The irst Rodeo ill eas
CARL L. STUDER
J ELLISON CARROLL, of Big Lake, Texas, is responsible for
J the statement that the first rodeo held in Texas was at the
town of Canadian in the summer of 1888. It was in the form of
a two-day celebration with steer roping contests as the main
event, and the other events that bordered around celebrations
in that day.
When Canadian held its 14th annual rodeo the week of July
4th, in 1922, it did so against a background of celebrations and
demonstrations which were representative of the evolution of
the west's "national" sport and which in themselves influenced
to a certain degree that evolution.
To Hemphill county belongs the distinction of innovating a
rodeo and was among the first of such "reunions" to be staged
as a community undertaking anywhere in the southwest.
The "Cowboys Reunion" held in '88 at Canadian, although
little heard of by the present generation, actually marked one
of the first evidences of a move toward establishing the vanishing
west in an impregnable rallying ground-its typical rodeo.
While natural primitive western contests as staged in every
range camp were indulged in by cowboys on the early ranches,
it remained for a group of cowboys from the Laurel Leaf ranch,
located east of Canadian, to conceive in 1888 the project of
holding a public celebration with a steer roping contest as the
The resulting festivities staged at Canadian for two days in
the summer of 1888 are remembered still by the residents of the
region as unique and the first of any consequence.
It will be recalled that this was just one year after the arrival
of the Santa Fe Railroad. Canadian did not have many citizens
at that time, but all of them from far and near came to engage
in the festivities and celebration. The report by residents that
lived here at that time was that there was "roping and tying
down," horse racing, tournament races and dancing indulged in
by the multitudes.
This celebration conceived in the minds of the residents of
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 48, July 1944 - April, 1945. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146055/. Accessed April 24, 2014.