Yeti Joins Toyota and Ariat to Partner with Nation’s Only African American Touring Rodeo

2019 nationally renowned Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo (BPIR) will entertain families afar both days, added entertainment includes an AfterParty Saturday Night and a Gospel Explosion Sunday with live performances during Pre-Show and half time.   Gates on Sunday open 2 hours earlier.

Consistently, for over 35 years, the BPIR toured throughout the U.S.A. entertaining millions with thrilling professional rodeo competitions of the most skilled and entertaining Black cowboys and cowgirls worldwide.  

Southern Californians will enjoy African American cowboys, cowgirls and youngsters choke dust and cheer for hard riding competitors as they battle to be named the best after a season of competition; spectators, competitors.  Attendees from all communities of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties can expect their favourite competitors during thrilling Calf Ropin’, exhilarating Bareback Ridin’, Bull Doggin, Ladies Barrel Racin’, Junior Barrel Racin’, Ladies Steer Undecoratin’, and gripping Bull Ridin. It’s ALWAYSa great weekend of high family entertainment and scrumptious food!

Under the guidance of Margo Wade Ladrew (BPIR National Development & Marketing Director and Los Angeles Coordinator), BPIR has curated sold out shows with repeat generation-after-generation attendees and rodeo competitors coming back year-after-year.  Always a splash to fans are the returning Official Grand Marshalls; actors, Glynn Turman, and Reginald T.Dorsey who have both served for 33years along with returning Deputy Marshals James Pickens, Jr., and Oba Babatune . In addition each year there are surprise celebrity special guests who attend and participate in the rodeo. 

"I remember the first time I saw the rodeo and was in amazement that I did not know about it.

Now as I celebrate my 25th year association with the rodeo I am so proud of what I have contributed to make it a continued success. As I take on my new role as National Development & Marketing Director I am committed to continue building this legacy, educating our youth, entertaining our fans and telling our forgotten history." states Ladrew

In 1984, Lu Vasonhad a vision toentertain audiences and create and preserve the history and contributions of African American cowboys and cowgirls. The result, TheBill 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.  Valeria Howard Cunningham, Lu’s then wife assumed the ownership and leadership of the BPIR when his health declined in 2010. Under her leadership, the rodeo continues to thrive and grow. Valeria; a black woman has succeeded in the rodeo industry, a white male dominated the industry as being the only Black woman to own a national touring rodeo company. BPIR, the only African American touring rodeo in the country continues in its mission of telling the stories of Black Cowboys and Cowgirls across the US, while entertaining audiences and offering the community a clean, family friendly and fun event. 

Vason named The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo 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 to continue his legacy and educate society about who he was and his contributions to society.

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. 

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 ToyotaAriat, Yeti, Upscale Magazineand Bronner Brothers. 

“Toyota celebrates the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo for its contributions to highlighting the history of African American's in the West and for educating Americans about the true diversity of the American West," Alva Adams-Mason, Director, Multicultural Business Alliance and Strategy & Senior Manager, Dealers Relations.

"Ariat is proud to partner with an organization that enables men and women to be competitive and pursue their passion for rodeo,"said Susan Alcala, Vice President, Partnership Marketing at Ariat. "We have so much respect for the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo and are honored to be able to do even more as we expand our support this year."

With Toyota, BPIR is going places!