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July 11-12, 2009 * Rowell Ranch, Hayward, CA

Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo photos by Roy Dabney


Oakland/Hayward, CA ( - To the delight of thrilled audiences and rodeo fans, some of the nation's most skilled and entertaining black cowboys and cowgirls will ride into the San Francisco Bay Area to compete in the exciting Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo (BPIR) 25th anniversary tour at Hayward, California's Rowell Ranch Rodeo Park. At 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 11 and 12, 2009, dust will fly and spectators will cheer for their favorite competitors as they watch exhilaratingly animated Calf Ropin', Bareback Ridin', Bull Doggin, Ladies Barrel Racin', Junior Barrel Racin', Ladies Steer Undercoatin' and Bull Ridin'. Rowell Ranch is located at 9711 Dublin Canyon Road; between Castro Valley and Dublin on the frontage road of Interstate 580. Tickets prices range from $15 to $22, and may be purchased online or call 510-530-2747.

The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo is a powerful tool that its founder Lu Vason uses to educate people on the Black West experiences and of the cultural pride associated with all of the contributions made by African Americans. "History notes that one out of every six cowboys was African American; therefore, the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo is a fitting tribute to Black cowboys and cowgirls nationwide," says Vason.


Los Angeles, CA: Industry Hill Expo Center
Sat., July 18th , 7:00 pm | Sun., July 19th, 3:30 pm
Washington, DC: Prince George's Showplace Arena
Friday, Sept. 18th, 10:00 am (Rodeo for Kid'z Sake)
Saturday, Sept. 19th, 1:30 pm & 7:30 pm
Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles Equestrian Center
BPIR FINALS - Saturday, Nov. 21st | Sunday, Nov. 22nd

Known as the "Dusky Demon," Bill Pickett (1870-1932) was the best-known African American rodeo performer of all time. He invented the rodeo sport of bulldogging, now known as steer wrestling, and entertained millions of people around the world, showcasing his bronco- and bull-riding and roping skills in wild west shows, circuses, world's fairs, and he worked for 25 years with the 101 Ranch's Wild West Show in Oklahoma. The professional cowboy and rodeo champion was small in stature but he was a larger-than-life Western legend in his own time. His rodeo career spanned more than 40 years. In 1989, he was inducted into the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), and in 1996, Bill Picket was the first rodeo athlete inducted into the Black Cowboy Walk of Fame in Denver, Colorado.

In 1916, Pickett retired from performing and lived on a small ranch he bought near Chandler, Oklahoma. In March 1932, Pickett tripped while roping a stallion and fell under the horse, which kicked him in the head. For the next 11 days he clung to life with a fractured skull. Finally, on April 2, 1932, Pickett died in a hospital in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

Pickett's funeral was one of the largest ever held in Oklahoma. He was buried high on a hill at White Eagle Monument, where the Cherokee Strip Cowboy Association set up a limestone marker in his memory. According to Frank Billings, Colonel Zack Miller of the 101 Ranch called him "the greatest sweat-and-dirt cowhand that ever lived," and wrote a poem in his honor. For more detailed information about Bill Pickett, please visit

Founded in 1984 by Lu Vason, the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo is an innovative, educational and exciting perspective on the history, challenges, and excitement of Black Americans in the western United States. It celebrates the life of the legendary Black cowboy Bill Pickett and other blacks who greatly contributed to the development of the west.

The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo tours each year from January through November. Its competitions are held across the country, including in the cities of Memphis, Atlanta, Houston, Albuquerque, Oakland, Los Angeles Denver, Bakersfield, Washington DC, St. Louis, and Milwaukee.

Non-profit Organization "Bill Pickett Memorial Scholarship Fund" I.D. #84-1064797

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