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BPIR Announces Margo Wade-Ladrew and Kimi Rhochelle Porter New Directors

“Any decision and action we make or take in life have an everlasting affect!” VHC

In 1984, Lu Vason had a vision to entertain audiences and to create and preserve the history and contributions of African American cowboys and cowgirls. The result, The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo (BPIR) titled “The Greatest Show on Dirt”.  At that time, Vason had no idea that the rodeo would be in existence today, celebrating its 35th anniversary.

Named after the legendary William “Bill’ Pickett; an African American and Cherokee cowboy, a Wild West Show performer and actor whom was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame; Vason sought to continue his legacy.

Although there are thousands of African American cowboys who helped to shape the history of America’s West, there is no greater documented legend than Bill Pickett. Bill Pickett was born in 1870, five years after the Civil War ended. Observing the relationship between cattle and the bulldogs used to control them, Pickett used the bulldog’s skills as a human, and he titled the skill “Bull Doggin”. Mastering this exceptional talent of “bull doggin” which includes, grabbing a steer by the horns, biting their upper lip, and wrestling them to the ground.  He was known by the nicknames “The Dusty Deamon” and “The Bull Dogger.” 

Bill’s career spanned over 40 years as a professional cowboy and rodeo champion. Bill Pickett became the first black cowboy movie star performing all over the world including the British Royal Family. Lu Vason achieved his mission of continuing the history and the legacy through The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo. 

BPIR is the world’s only African American touring rodeo and longest running African American Family Event in the world.After Lu Vason became ill and passed away in 2015, his then wife Valeria Howard-Cunningham stepped up as President and producer (the only African American woman to produce a rodeo) to revamp the rodeo operations, strengthen community relations, and to create collaborating partners in order to continue Vason’s mission and the legacy African American cowboys and cowgirls.

“Seeing devoted rodeo fans; walking with canes, in wheelchairs or just slowly taking their time with deliberate steps, not letting their physical challenges keep them from coming to the rodeo, provided me clarity of the impact of BPIR on rodeo fans.. this has intensified my passion and fuels the mission to continue Lu Vason’s legacy,” Howard-Cunningham.

For the last 4 years, under Howard-Cunningham’s direction, the rodeo has continued to thrive and now reflects the power, influence and determination of a Black woman reaching national attention from CBS, Trevor Noah host of The Daily Show, AOL, Black Enterprise, and Eurweb to name a few.

Valeria is joined by some legendary Black Rodeo women such as Carolyn Carter, Stephanie Haynes and Danielle Clark and other women such as Acynthia Villery and Margo Wade LaDrew in elevating BPIR to the next level. 

Additionally, Valeria Howard-Cunningham has revamped BPIR operations by promoting Margo Wade Ladrew of Wade & Associates Group to BPIR National Development & Marketing Director correlating various aspects of the rodeo.  Ladrew has over 30 years of experience in sale, marketing, consumer promotions, event management and community relations with a specific focus on African American consumers working with the likes of the NAACP Image Awards, Essence TV Awards, The Black Movie Awards, Martin Luther King Community Hospital, KJLH Radio, and Health Net to name a few.  Ladrew is also the founder of The Black BeautyShop “Beauty-n-Black” Wellness Tour that includes Beauty-n-Motion Walk/Run.

While Ladrew still remains coordinator of BPIR Los Angeles rodeo (for over 24 years), her goal is to continue the elevation of the rodeo’s legacy by overseeing the marketing plan and obtaining sponsorship partners for the organization.  Already meeting milestones, Margo Wade Ladrew has created a partnership between BPIR and Toyota as a national sponsor. 

In addition, Valeria Howard Cunningham hired Kimi Rhochelle Porter of KRPR Media as the National Public Relations Director.  Porter has worked as publicist for over 20 years to include clients such as The Long Beach Jazz Festival, The Hap awards, The San Diego Smooth Jazz Festival, The Las Vegas City of Lights, The National College Resources Foundation, The Black College Expo Tour, Thixotix Modeling Troupe, Inner City Youth Los Angeles, and The Orange County Black History Parade to name a few.  As well, KRPR Media has provided successful marketing and promotions services to major producers such as AEG, Live Nation, and Golden Boy Promotions; leading to sold out concerts. Porter has worked with BPIR for over 10 years in the Los Angeles markets.  As the National Public Relations Director, her role is to coordinate all public relations activities across the board streamlining national media affiliates from a national level and a local stand point.

“I am extremely honored to work with the Bill Pickett Rodeo creating various strategies to include all social online networks, cross marketing various media relations activities to include print and  broadcast,  to bring collaboration efforts with major brands, and to create effect communication streamlines.  As well I am eager to work the BPIR Social Media Director Acynthia Villery to create a YouTube channel, as well as to create more community interaction through Facebook Live, Instagram stories, IGTV, blogging and monthly newsletters,”states Porter.

The Bill Pickett Rodeo has blossomed into a phenomenal show bringing total family joy to sell-out crowds across America. Current tour/show sites include Denver, CO., Memphis, TN., Oakland, CA., Los Angeles, CA., Atlanta, GA., Washington, DC.  An added addition to the BPIR Rodeo is the Rodeo For Kidz Sake (RFKS) that educates and entertain thousands of school aged children exposing them to animals, cowboys and cowgirls. The RFKS experience teaches the kids about the importance of Black Americans in the development of the West and confirm that there are Black cowboys and cowgirls, which is something missing from the history books, television and movie screens.

The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo is proud to mention national sponsors Toyota, Upscale Magazine, Andy’s Seasoning, Safeway, and Glory Foods.

Vendors opportunities are available as well as national and local sponsors whom seek to align their brands with a whole hearty family legacy.  In addition, media affiliates are sought, email KimiRhochelle press@billpickettrodeo.com

Please visit our website at www.billpickettrodeo.comfor more information or call 303-373-1246.

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With Toyota, BPIR is going places!