We are fortunate in Reno that we have a multitude of community events that shape our Biggest Little City. One of my family’s favorites is the Reno Rodeo, the “Wildest Richest Rodeo in the West”.
This event typically moseys on into town for 10 days in mid-June. The festivities kick-off with a parade through downtown on Virginia Street, and then onto the Reno Livestock Events Center and Fairgrounds.
My Rodeo Roots
I have attended the Reno Rodeo with my family since I was a mini cowgirl. I remember my parents would take us to KFC and we would order a meal, stick it in a backpack and sneak it in. This was our tradition.
My brother and I would watch as the cowgirls weaved their horses between barrels, hoping to be tenths of a second faster than those before her. Our gazes would be locked on the bulls, with snot and horns flying about as they bested the cowboys, or as the crowd roared for the contestant making it past the longest 8 seconds ever.
We knew the swagger and the jokes of the rodeo clowns, and Lucy the dog who would round up the stray animals that didn’t find their own way through the gates to the back corrals.
We knew the scent that was distinct “rodeo” as animals, weathered wood, summer sun, and sweat filled the air. We celebrated love for family, life, and hard work.
As a child, it was an annual event that I looked forward to every single year, and I proudly introduced my husband to the event when he joined our family.
P.S. I’m No Cowgirl
I should probably mention that my family is not ranchers, farmers, or cowboys/girls by any means.
I have owned boots and a hat for the sole purpose of wearing them to the Reno Rodeo. I’d embraced growing up next door to a cow field with the neighborhood horse and pig wandering into our yard at their convenience. That’s as deep as my “country” goes.
The good news is that you don’t have to own a ranch or a horse or even boots to enjoy the Reno Rodeo. All are welcome.
With our own babes, we have wanted them to experience this tradition and partake in the awe of rodeo as well (also the beauty that is a funnel cake).
Since my oldest daughter was one, we have attended the Reno Rodeo as a great big family, including my parents, brother, and in-laws.
As if I didn’t make it obvious already: yes, I think that you should take your family to the Reno Rodeo, especially if it’s not an event that you have been to in the past.
With that being said, there are always costs to consider.
“Ride like the wind, Bullseye!”
(Ok, that quote from Woody was completely unnecessary, but I couldn’t help myself.)
You can park in the parking lot of the Reno Livestock Events Center, and it’s usually about $10-$20 per car. We have sprung for this parking in the past because there is quite a bit of walking and we wanted to avoid overly tired whining children at the end of the night at all costs.
PRO TIP: We even bring their pajamas and change them in the car before we buckle up and head home.
Costs: Tickets, Carnival, Food
Then there’s the cost of the actual tickets themselves, which I would recommend you purchase a month or at least a couple of weeks in advance. This ensures you get good seats and seats all together if you’re rolling with a big crew like we usually do.
Once you enter the Fairgrounds (you will need your rodeo ticket to enter), you and especially your children will lay eyes upon the grandeur that are the carnival games, rides, and vendors.
All of these bright colors and flashing lights will be attractive to even the most focused, but be advised, the carnival games and rides are NOT CHEAP!
*Side note: you can still enter the carnival without your rodeo ticket, but you will have to purchase tickets to enter the carnival.
Aside from the carnival, there are also two indoor vendor shopping locations. One is much larger and inside the indoor events center, and the other one is between the carnival and the food court.
If you’re in the mood to blow some cash, you’ll find everything from boots to salsa.
Then you hit the food court. The smells of all of the delicious variations of food cooking can be a little overwhelming at first, but just lean in…because I guarantee it will taste delicious. There are all kinds of foods offered.
You can get all kinds of BBQ, hand-dipped corn dogs, tacos, lemonade, fried onion rings, and stir-fry, just to name a few.
As a family, we typically indulge and eat dinner at the food court. My favorite is the Whoop-Ass Fries from BJ’s BBQ: French fries loaded with cheese and BBQ brisket and it makes my mouth water just writing about them now.
Once we finish up and wipe our faces from dinner, we head into the Rodeo. You can stop and grab an adult beverage before heading up to the grandstands, as long as you have had your ID checked and you’ve been given a wristband that says you’re of the legal age.
The Rodeo and The Sunset
THEN you finally make your way to your seats to see the show, and I truly believe that it is spectacular. There is such a sense of family that I feel as I enjoy the rodeo with my own, and I love watching my kids marvel at the horses, impossible feats, and fireworks.
I must admit, one of my favorite parts is the sunset. There always seems to be a killer sunset at the rodeo.
You’ve got a friend in me…
In addition to the festivities of the actual Reno Rodeo itself, there’s also the Reno Rodeo Foundation. The Reno Rodeo Foundation utilizes funds raised through the rodeo to enhance children throughout Northern Nevada during the entire year.
I have been able to see first-hand how much love is poured into the Reno Rodeo Foundation by a lot of soft-hearted cowboys and cowgirls, and I can say that they truly work to make a difference.
See you next year, Reno Rodeo!
While my entire family was disappointed that we can’t attend the Reno Rodeo this year due to its closure as a result of COVID-19, we know that it is but a minor issue given a very global problem.
We look forward to returning to our Reno Rodeo roots, having one of our daughters Mutton Bust, and (safely) enjoying the sport of rodeo (and also the funnel cake).
Happy Trails, Partner.
Jenelle Stathes married her high-school sweetheart and they share their love with their three darling and fierce daughters. She works as the CEO of their small family business and as a group fitness instructor for a local gym. Jenelle was born and raised right here in Reno, Nevada, and is doing her best at living a non-judgy and tribe-loving mom life. She has experience with infertility, weight loss, body positivity, fitness, and most recently, a tummy tuck. You can follow Jenelle to laugh either with her or at her as she traverses through the daily adventures of motherhood.