If Debra Greenwood-Sharp could harness her excitement for the outcome of the inaugural George Ranch Rodeo, she might be able to outride the best competitors on the meanest of bulls Saturday night.
“If you could see the smile on my face right now,” she said. “It was fantastic! It was fantastic and also very successful. I couldn’t sleep that night because I was so excited and thrilled.”
Greenwood-Sharp chaired the committee that spent the last two years planning the rodeo and setting into place an event they hope will become an annual affair. It was hosted by the Fort Bend History Association in the arena at George Ranch Historical Park Saturday evening.
“For this first event – our first rodeo, literally – it went the way of the vision that was given to me,” Greenwood-Sharp said.
She said early estimates put attendance at around 1,000 people – nearly double what was anticipated.
The rodeo honored the history and legacy of black cowboys and rodeo riders, highlighting her uncles, James and Willie Thomas. The Thomas brothers grew up at the George Ranch and, from a young age, rode anything they could – including pigs. Both brothers went on to compete in professional rodeos – James rode bare back until he left to serve in the U.S. Army and Willie became one of the best professional bull riders of his era. His contributions to the field were recognized by the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Greenwood-Sharp effused praise on everyone from the sponsors to the committee, the fans, the participants, and her family.
“This was a two-year labor of love,” she said. “God winked on us!”
Slack events were held throughout the day. The evening show began with a grand entry, presentation of the colors, a prayer by the Rev. Earnest Sharp, the singing of the National Anthem and Negro National Anthem by Genét Chenier.
Fans were treated to competitions in bull riding, breakaway roping, barrel racing, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, ladies steer undecorating, and team roping.
“We’re getting ready to be in the midst of planning next year’s rodeo,” Greenwood-Sharp said.