Last summer we visited Old Abilene Town in Abilene, Kansas, as part of a media event. That evening, our hosts treated us to a cattle drive featuring Texas Longhorn cattle, a ride on the Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad, and a museum tour. In the museum we learned about Wild Bill Hickok’s time in Abilene. So, we were excited when we were also invited to attend the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo, where we could see real cowboys and cowgirls in competitive action.
The Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo is an annual event, named multiple times as one of the top five professional outdoor rodeos in America. What was the rodeo like?
Disclosure: Kansas Tourism and the Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau sponsored our visit to the rodeo. Our admission to the rodeo was comped; however, all opinions are our own.
Miss Rodeo America
Before the rodeo, our group met with Miss Rodeo America 2022, Hailey Frederiksen. Miss Rodeo America is a beauty pageant, but appearance is only 20% of the scoring. Judges factor in personality and public speaking, as well. The largest criterion? Horsemanship is 30% of a contestant’s score. A contestant must know how to handle a horse and be rodeo knowledgeable.
The rodeo was everything we’ve seen in movies—and then some. Cowboys riding bulls and buckin’ broncs. Rodeo clowns entertaining spectators and diverting bulls’ attention (talk about a dangerous job!). Women maneuvering horses around barrels in timed competition. We especially enjoyed the Mutton Bustin’, a children’s event. Young wanna-be cowboys and cowgirls ride (or try to ride) a sheep. So cute! On the night we attended, only one child stayed on longer than a few seconds.
Slideshow of Rodeo Highlights
2023 Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo
The 2023 Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo will be held August 1 to 4 at the Eisenhower Park Fairgrounds in Abilene. The Central Kansas Free Fair, akin to a county fair, is also scheduled August 1 to 6 at the fairgrounds, so it makes sense to attend both the rodeo and the Free Fair on the same day.