Rodeo Committee • Inducted 2023
Started in 1929 by Howard Harris Sr. and his son, Howard “Stoney” Harris Jr., the Cowtown Rodeo has been a staple of eastern rodeo. The rodeo was held annually in Woodstown, New Jersey, during the Salem County Fair until 1938. World War II paused the rodeo until Howard “Baldy” Harris, Stoney’s son, returned after winning the 1954 National Intercollegiate All-Around Championship in 1955.
The Harris family worked together to establish the oldest weekly professional rodeo in the United States. Held every Saturday from May through September, the Cowtown Rodeo gained national attention with television exposure in 1958. That exposure continued to the 1970s. The rodeo outgrew its original arena in 1967 when it expanded to its current 4,000 seat arena.
Fourth generation cowboy, Howard Grant Harris grew up behind the chutes and joined the ranks of the PRCA at age 17. He established himself as a competitive saddle bronc rider, winning the Northeast Circuit Saddle Bronc Championship three times. In 1978, Harris and his wife, Betsy, bought the rodeo and shortly afterward Harris hung up his competitive spurs to produce the rodeo full-time. Grant and Betsy passed the rodeo to the fifth generation, their daughter, Katy, and her husband RJ Griscom. They took over daily management in 2020.
Cowtown Rodeo is unique in the fact that they not only have produced rodeos all over the East Coast, from Rutland, Vermont, to Raleigh, North Carolina, but also raise most of their bucking stock. The bucking horses seen today are the grandsons and granddaughters of those seen in the early 1970’s. At the time of induction, they have produced over 1500 rodeos.