By Sandy Karp
The 33rd Annual Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo (BPIR) is set to visit the Bay Area on July 8-9 and will be held at Rowell Ranch Rodeo Grounds at 9711 Dublin Canyon Road in Hayward. The only nationally-touring, historically African American rodeo supports the Bill Pickett Memorial Scholarship Fund, a nonprofit providing scholarships to African American high school and college students pursuing careers in rodeo or animal science.
While you can expect to enjoy rodeo classics such as bareback riding, mutton busting, 18 different concession stands, and more, this rodeo is equally a cultural, community-building event that honors African American cowboys and cowgirls and celebrates their contribution to building the West.
The event pays homage to a long and storied history of African Americans serving as cowhands and horse wranglers and highlights their renowned riding ability, particularly on the roughest broncos.
In 1984, after the Negro Cowboys’ Rodeo Association dissolved, Lucious “Lu” Agustus Vason established BPIR. He came up with the idea after attending a major rodeo and noticing it lacked African American cowboys and cowgirls and sought to open a rodeo that would educate participants about the significance of African American western heritage. Since then, the rodeo has traveled to more than 33 cities across the U.S.
Tickets for the event are sold online at a discounted price or at the door. Adult tickets cost $26 and tickets for children (ages 2-12) cost $22.