Discover the enduring legacy of black cowboys in Fort Bend County history on Saturday, Feb. 16, at the inaugural George Ranch Rodeo.
Featuring all the favorite rodeo events (including bull-riding, team roping and steer-riding) plus kids’ activities, entertainment, and vendors, the rodeo will be a fun-filled day at the ranch like no other.
“For more than 100 years, black cowboys played an essential role in Fort Bend County ranching operations. At the George Ranch specifically, four generations of black cowboys worked alongside four generations of the George family, leaving behind a rich legacy of black cowboy heritage that is unique to this part of Texas,” said Director of Programs Krystal Willeby. “The rodeo grew out of a desire to celebrate the skills and contributions of these amazing individuals.”
This year’s event will showcase the history of black cowboys in Fort Bend County with a particular spotlight on brothers James and Willie Thomas. The Thomas brothers grew up at George Ranch and, from a young age, rode anything they could – including ranch pigs. Both brothers went on to compete in professional rodeos: James rode bare back until he left the cowboy life to serve in the U.S. Army and Willie became one of the best professional bull riders of his era. (Willie’s contributions to the field have now been recognized by the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame.)
Debra Greenwood-Sharp, a member of the Fort Bend History Association’s Board of Trustees, said she is delighted to see her uncles’ ranching and rodeo accomplishments showcased for the community.
“I’m grateful – and so thankful – for the opportunity to share and raise awareness for the legacy of the many black cowboys who trail blazed through history here at the George Ranch and elsewhere in Fort Bend County,” she said. “I’m definitely tickled that my uncles played a big part in that story, but I’m also extremely honored to help preserve the legacy of the black cowboys in this part of Texas.”
The rodeo will feature special guest appearances by Genet Chenier, DJ R.E.M and DJ 281. Rodeo events include bull-riding, ladies’ barrel racing, steer-wrestling, tie-down calf-roping, ladies’ steer undecorating and team roping. Children’s rodeo events include mutton-busting, barrel racing, breakaway and tie-down. The slack starts at 9 a.m. with the grand entry at 6:30 p.m. and show time at 7 p.m.
“Our committee has worked tirelessly for months to ensure a fun-filled, exciting day here at the ranch,” Greenwood-Sharp said. “You won’t want to miss it!”
Pre-sale tickets are currently available online. General rodeo tickets include admission to the arena only; box seats include admission to the arena and historical park. Pre-sale general admission cost is $5 for children ages four through 12 and $15 for adults. Box seats, which include admission to the historical park, are $12 for children ages four through 12 and $30 for adults. At-the-gate general admission tickets are $10 for children ages four through 12 and $20 for adults. At-the-gate box seats, which include admission to the park, are $17 for children ages four through 12 and $35 for adults.
For more information, visit www.georgeranch.org/programs-events/george-ranch-rodeo/ or call 281-343-0218.