Williams Rodeo Committee President Bob Dean displays three awards he returned to Williams with after attending the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Annual Awards Banquet Dec. 4 in Las Vegas, Nev. Dean was the recipient of the 2003 Outstanding Individual award by the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association.
Dean believes being named “Outstanding Individual” stems from receiving the “Best Footing” award — an award that has been received by the Williams Rodeo Committee for the last six of seven years of the Williams PRCA Labor Day Rodeo. The one year the group did not take first place for “Best Footing” was the year they placed third.
During the Williams Labor Day PRCA Rodeo, the arena is raked after every run in barrel racing. The grounds of the arena take a severe beating with each race, Dean said.
“This guarantees that every girl has an even chance,” he said. “Not all rodeos do this, but I’m seeing it more.”
As the tractor driver for the raking, Dean received a pair of Justin boots and $1,000 cash as a result of earning the “Best Footing Award.”
Although the awards ceremony was Dec. 4, the Deans were in Las Vegas Dec. 3-9. They remained in Las Vegas to hire performers and staff for the 2004 Williams PRCA Labor Day Rodeo. Those they hired include bull fighters, announcers, clowns and a stock contractor.
The average cost to host the Labor Day Rodeo each year is between $50,000 and $60,000. Sponsorships ease the burden of the costs. The costs are incurred through the hiring of staff, securing a squad drill team, paying judges, providing sound equipment and contributing $8,800 towards prize money, he said.
The 2003 Williams PRCA Labor Day Rodeo is the tenth rodeo Dean has coordinated with the Williams Rodeo Committee. In past years, he assisted the Bill Williams Mountain Men and the Williams Lions Club when they organized the event. Dean is no stranger to rodeos, competing himself in the 1950’s. He competed in calf roping, team roping and bareback riding — which he proudly says was his specialty. In 1958, he placed first in bull riding in the College Rodeo. Today, he still competes in the Cowpuncher’s Rodeo, which is held one month earlier than the Labor Day Rodeo.
Five generations of the Dean Family have been a dominant force of the planning and execution of Williams’ rodeos. Dean’s grandfather, father, himself and now his son and grandson, have all planned and guaranteed that rodeos will remain in Williams.
Through the years, Dean has seen many changes in rodeos. Two of the biggest changes Dean has seen has been in bareback riding and ropes. Dean said changes in bareback riding has been primarily in the rigging style. The rig is similar to a suitcase handle and a cowboy “really has to rare back.”
“Bareback riding is harder on the cowboy’s body than any other event,” Dean said.
Even the ropes the cowboys use have changed. Grass ropes were formerly used in calf roping and nylon ropes were used for team roping. There are now more than 200 different types of ropes.
Rodeos now also have less backing.
“Only 10 percent of those who attend rodeos are true fans. The rest are only there to watch and don’t understand the event,” Dean said.
He added that people are stepping up to help out more when it comes to planning the rodeos.
“The committee we have works really hard,” Dean said. “More locals should come out and see the rodeos.”
Rodeos are a tradition for the Dean Family. Dean’s wife, Peggy, is a former barrel racer. Their daughter, Phyllis, held the title of Miss Rodeo Arizona and won a state championship as a 4-H barrel racer. Phyllis’ daughter, Carly, was thrown from a horse for the first time recently on her seventh birthday. Carly wasn’t injured and like her grandfather, she stood up, brushed off the dust and got back on her horse.
“Our rodeo is one of the best in the United States. I would like to see more locals come out and support us,” Dean said. “Both the PRCA and the WPRA realize how good we are and that is why we’ve received these awards.”