The award kicks off a historic year for the Sidney Iowa Championship Rodeo. In 2023, the Sidney Rodeo is gearing up to celebrate its 100th anniversary and their continued dedication to tourism in southwest Iowa makes it deserving of this award.
The Sidney Iowa Championship Rodeo has been cultivating tourism in southwest Iowa since well before tourism was recognized as an official industry in the state. In 1923, the Tackett brothers returned from Wyoming and decided to entertain visitors attending the Old Soldiers Reunion in Sidney. To show them some real western action, a circle was formed with Model T cars and makeshift fencing and Henry and Earl Tackett were up and away on the fastest bad horses they could find. They received the sum of $50 and more bruises than they could count.
The Sidney American Legion Post 128 quickly assumed sponsorship of this exciting sport and made it an annual event open to the public with a small grandstand and no admission charge. They went each year to South Dakota to buy bucking broncs, and bulls were bought from Texas and Mexico. Several quarter horses were owned by the Legion and kept in Sidney all year. Within five years attendance grew so much that a small admission was added, a larger grandstand built, professional cowboys began to compete, and some trick riders and animal acts were added. Early rodeos included the appearance of Indian tribesmen in full native dress, sometimes from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. In 1931, lights were added to the arena to allow for the addition of night shows. After 1952, the livestock was brought in by professional contractors, who furnished top-grade stock to work at each performance.
Today, the Sidney facility boasts plenty of parking, new pens and gates, hospital facilities, concessions, covered concrete grandstands, a flea market, carnival, parade, and musical entertainment after the weekend performances. Sidney’s population of 1,070 regularly hosts 15,000 to 20,000 visitors during the five days of Sidney Iowa Rodeo. Attendance counts have been up to 38,000, which ranks in the top 12% of the nearly 650 rodeos approved by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Events are added throughout rodeo week to captivate the attention of vistitors and engage residents. The Rodeo Queen Contest, Rodeo Parade, and Rodeo Days activities on the square Specialty acts delight audiences between bucking and bull riding competition and the girls barrel racing event.
In 1996, the Sidney Rodeo was declared an official Iowa Sesquicentennial event with the Friday afternoon performance being dedicated to that celebration of 150 years of statehood. The “Iowa Voyager” trailer, containing historical Iowa memorabilia, was on display in Sidney during Rodeo week.
On its 75th anniversary year, the Sidney Iowa Rodeo was selected as the 1997 PRCA National Finals, Small Outdoor Rodeo of the Year. The Sidney Rodeo was honored to be a part of the 2015 induction class for the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, when it was referred to as being "among the oldest and most prestigious PRCA events on the schedule."
The Sidney Rodeo is located in Fremont County, the southwest cornerstone of Iowa, and anchor of the southern end of the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway.