We’ve been leaning into the cowboy culture that’s so classic Arizona recently with Kira’s recent trip to White Stallion Dude Ranch in Southern Arizona and recently a few of us took our kids to the Professional Bull Riders performance at Gila River Arena to soak up Arizona Rodeo Life.
Growing up in Arizona around rodeo, both Britt and Amy’s babies naturally had their first boots before they were a year old. In fact, growing up, Amy’s family planned their summer travels around the summer rodeo circuit and did a cabin rental to take part in rodeo week festivities (more on that from Grandma Ginger soon)—it’s so much more than just a three hour performance!
Whether you’re a transplant here to the East Valley and unsure about what you’re signing up for when you buy a rodeo ticket, or if you’ve just never been, here’s a few of our favorite kid-friendly parts of attending a local Arizona rodeo, and a roundup of Arizona rodeos to consider taking your family to.
If your 4-7 year old is an adventure seeking kid, sign them up for muton busting. Considered a kid’s gateway to bull riding, this event features rodeo attendee children riding a sheep to see who can stay on the longest.
Typically it costs $15-20 and pre-registration is required. Kids are equipped with safety gear and it’s one of the rodeo events performed in front of the live audience.
It’s a whole Western weekend
Most rodeos have programming dedicated all weekend including three performances, a parade, carnival, cowboy dance (typically adults only, good call for a babysitter), and cowboy church on Sunday morning. (What is cowboy church, you ask? Non-denominal Christian churches within the cowboy culture that are distinctively Western heritage in character.)
For the full rodeo weekend experience, take advantage of all the other activities programmed.
Seeing the animal athletes
Rodeo is a true sport not only for the cowboys performing, but the animals, from the sheep for mutton bustin, to the horses, cattle and bulls.
Most rodeos are intimate enough around Arizona that family’s can get a close view of animal athletes to see how well they’re taken care of, the pens they wait in until it’s time to perform, what they’re munching on, etc. Kids love seeing the animals up close to help bring the rodeo performance to life for them!
During the performance, kids are wowed event after event. From the barrel racing (which most little girls love!) to the bull riding, this is a new type of animal encounter than kids have seen elsewhere.
Dressing the part
It’s not rodeo weekend if you’re in Nikes and skinny jeans—part of the fun is shopping for just a piece or two of Western wear to lean into the experience.
Kids especially enjoy getting to look like real cowboys and cowgirls, and honestly, boots are sturdier than most kids’ shoes, so they may quickly become your go-to footwear for kids.
With two East Valley locations (Chandler and Apache Junction), Shoppers Supply (a family-owned shop) is the store to get outfitted for a rodeo weekend for the whole family. They have boots, hats and clothing for the full family (literally babies to grandparents).
Britt and I recently took the babies to get summer rodeo gear and the staff was not only welcoming and told us what cute little Western kids we had, but extremely helpful in assisting us in finding the right sizes and styles we were looking for (including coordinating his/her overalls for both kids).Getting babies to try on boots should be a rodeo event itself, and the gal working the footwear section was so patient with both kids running across the entire store with their boots on.
If you’re unsure what to buy for your kids for rodeo weekend, here’s a checklist to get you shopping:
Stetson cowboy hat
Pearl snap Wrangler shirt
Western leather belt
Bedazzled cowgirl belt
For babies, Wrangler makes the sweetest cowgirl bloomers, too!
Mom tip: Shoppers Supply has a huge product selection – beyond clothing they offer pet supplies, grilling supplies, sporting goods, firearms, lawn and garden supplies and more. Basically, if you ever need a gift for your husband, just browse the aisles here and you’re bound to find something!
Plus, here’s $10 off a purchase of $50 or more for EVM readers to help get your Western wardrobe started!
Planning your trip
Each rodeo around the state only happens once a year, so we recommend being intentional for planning your rodeo weekends. Some rodeos were canceled due to COVID in 2020 and early 2021, but will be returning in 2022.
Before you go, check out this quick rodeo 101 guide so you know what you’ll be watching!
- February: Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo (Apache Junction)
- February: Gold Rush Days Rodeo (Wickenburg)
- March: Roots ‘n’ Boots Rodeo (Queen Creek)
- March Parada Del Sol (Scottsdale)
- March: Professional Bull Riding (Glendale)
- March: Cave Creek Rodeo (Cave Creek)
- May: Gary Hardt Memorial Rodeo (Payson)
- July: World’s Oldest Rodeo (Prescott)
- August: World’s Oldest, Continuous Rodeo (Payson)
- November: Gilbert Days Rodeo (Gilbert)
- November: The Navajo Nation Queen Creek PBR (Queen Creek)