It's a beloved tradition in the old pueblo, and every February at Tucson Rodeo Grounds, excitement is everywhere.
The community is getting ready for La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros, The Celebration of the Cowboys.
Running February 18-26, this nine-day event centers on the Tucson Rodeo, one of the top 25 professional rodeos in North America.
The rodeo enlists over 700 contestants, competing for more than $460,000 in prize money.
The rodeo events include bull riding, bareback and saddle bronc riding, team roping, and barrel racing.
Chairman of the Tucson Rodeo, Jose Calderon says the event offers other activities, as well.
"There's so much to see. There are food vendors. You get to see a lot of the stock, meet some of the cowboys. So, that's a great time to get here early. The whole event ends till 8 o'clock. We have a Coors bar dance 4 to 8, so after the rodeo, it keeps going."
Kids can also get in on the action. Four to six-year-olds can test their riding skills on sheep, during the Dodge Mutton Bustin'. Five to twelve-year-olds can compete in roping events, steer riding and barrel racing. These activities start at 12:30 p.m. each rodeo day.
Calderon says, "Amongst all the bulls and the broncs, the dust and the mud and everything else, seeing a little bow with his cowboy hat, a little girl with her little pigtails, walking hand-in-hand with their parents or grandparents that have been coming here for years, that, right there, is what it's all about for us."
And, let's not forget about the Tucson Rodeo Parade.
Billed as the world's largest non-motorized parade, this event brings in an estimated 200 thousand spectators. The parade features western-themed floats, marching bands, historic horse-drawn coaches and more.
The parade begins at 9 a.m. on Thursday, February 23.
Other special events include a Cannon workshop on opening day and a "wear pink day" on Sunday the 19th to support breast cancer initiatives.
Keep in mind the rodeo's public safety procedures.
You can bring in a clutch with a shoulder strap, a clutch with a wrist strap, a 1-gallon clear plastic freezer bag, and a 12x6x12 clear plastic bag. Items not allowed into the venue include backpacks, binocular cases, camera bags, and totes. The rodeo will allow photography for personal and private use.
Tickets for the Tucson Rodeo start at $15, and Calderon says proceeds benefit the Tucson economy.
"The Tucson rodeo has a huge impact on Tucson community. We generate almost 50 million in Tucson, right there. We also help a lot of charitable organizations., said Calderon.
A full schedule of Tucson Rodeo events can be found here.
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