The dream had always been there.
So when the Tate family learned no one was putting on a summer rodeo series in Williams, they jumped at the chance to do just that.
“There is nothing better than doing what you want in your own hometown,” said Jerry Tate, owner of the Route 66 Rodeo Company. “I was born and raised here.”
The rodeos are Friday and Saturday nights starting at 7:30 p.m. on June 15-16, June 22-23, July 20-12, July 27-28 and Aug. 10-11 at the Williams-Bob Dean Rodeo Grounds.
Bareback riding, team roping, ribbon roping, saddle bronc riding, calf roping, breakaway roping, barrel racing and bull riding are the rodeo events.
Tate admits he did move away for 20 years, but he never left ranching or rodeos. Last year, he returned to Williams with his family to open Kaibab Cowboy, a shop downtown.
“We’re here. This is our home so we thought ‘let’s do it,’” he said. “It’s what we do anyway. Plus, we had the stock.
“We produced ropings in the Valley. We trained and raised roping horses.”
The love of animals and the traditions of the West run deep in the family, Tate said.
“My dad trained and raised roping horses for years,” he said. “He still raises horses.
“Shasta — that’s all she’s ever known.”
Shasta Wells, who is Tate’s daughter, does the bookwork for the rodeo company. She is also ranked as one of the top female ropers in the nation.
“I do all the grunt work and she does all the head work,” Tate said. “It’s a family deal.”
Tate, who is a member of the Cowpunchers, won the Wild West Rodeo Company’s open team roping event last year with Clay Tyree, from the Howard Lake Cattle Company north of Williams. He said his wife, Jeri, has also been a big help.
“She’s been the best darn supporter,” he said. “When we have sick horses she doctors them.”
Support from the town is another key to the rodeo company having a successful year, Tate said.
“I was just amazed by how much the city is supporting us,” he said.
Tate added sponsorships by Pine Country, Rod’s Steak House and Grand Canyon Airlines show local businesses give credence to the endeavor.
“I believe they know the potential here,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll make this town into a Steamboat Springs, Colo., or Cody, Wyo.”
The first weekend of the summer series, June 1-2, was very exciting for the family.
“It turned out really good,” Wells said. “I think they’ll get better and better as the summer goes on and hopefully as the years go on.”
Participants in the rodeo come in all sizes.
“We have events for every age,” Tate said.
Tyler Aldridge, a local teen, rode his first bull during the opening weekend.
“I’d like to see more of the local kids get involved,” Tate said. “We have some good horses to learn team roping and some good bulls for confidence building.
“A lot of kids don’t have the opportunity — I’d like to give them that.”
Plus, Tate added, “It’s just great to see kids come and have fun.”
Eventually the company plans on offering more roping events as well as bull riding.
Keeping the rodeo affordable was a goal of Tate’s.
“There’s nothing worse than a little kid who wants to go to a rodeo who just can’t afford it,” he said. “We’ve tried to make it so the whole family can attend.”
Tickets are available at Kaibab Cowboy, 213 W. Route 66, or at the gate.
Anyone interested in registering as a participant for the rodeo can call Kaibab Cowboy, at 635-1592, on Mondays or Tuesdays.