Nebraska’s Big Rodeo

Rodeo Committee • Class of 2022

Started in September 1921 by Homer C. Stokes, Nebraska’s Big Rodeo has celebrated the Spirit of the West ever since. The rodeo was held in conjunction with the Garfield County Fair in Burwell. That first year the committee paid a new pair of spurs and $25 to H.D. Kraus for winning the saddle bronc riding. This out-door, mid-summer rodeo became a must stop in the 1930s and continues to draw the biggest competitors in ProRodeo through its gates every year.

Burwell is considered the “front door” of the Nebraska Sand Hills, a 19,000 square mile region of grass-covered dunes, across the northern part of the state. This small town of approximately 1,200 people hosts between 10,000 and 12,000 spectators each year. These spectators come from all over the world to witness this truly American sport.

Situated on 40-acre grounds, the arena was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in the 1980s. This was part of a revitalization project for the rodeo which also included switching the performances to the evenings, adding events like wild horse racing and a dinner bell derby, and adding more prize money.

Today, this historic rodeo continues to delight audiences each summer.