Touring Black Rodeo Rides into San
Francisco Bay Area
July 9-10, 2011 • Rowell Ranch, Hayward, CA



GUTHRIE, “Today Show”

“Well, they may not be household names, but thousands of the men who
helped settle the West were African-American. NBC’s Mara
Schiavocampo is here with the story of a rodeo aimed at celebrating
their often overlooked contribution to American history.”


MARA SCHIAVOCAMPO reporting: “Well, it’s named after Bill Pickett,
one of the most famous black cowboys, and for the past 27 years this
touring rodeo has allowed black cowboys and cowgirls the venue to
show off their skills, compete for prize money and share the
tradition with a whole new generation. Cowboys, the faces of the
frontier, depicted in movies as fast-riding, gun-slinging pioneers.
But when it comes to scenes from the Wild West, one character is
often left out, the black cowboy.”


NBC’s “Today Show”
recently featured the thrilling all-Black rodeo — Bill Pickett
Invitational (BPIR) — the exciting family-friendly national touring
event founded in 1984 by San Francisco Bay Area native

Lu Vason.  The “Today Show” segment featured
interviews with and comments from some of the professional cowboys
and cowgirls who perform and compete in the BPIR throughout the
year.  “Today Show” reporter Mara Schiavocampo spoke at length with
Stephanie Haynes, one of the nation’s
most decorated female rodeo champions.  The tiny 41-year-old

BPIR Walk of Famer was BPIR Steer
Undercoating Champion (1992-1994, 1996, 1997, 1999-2004, 2006) and
BPIR All-around Cowgirl Champion (1997, 1998, 1999, 2001).  Haynes,
whose day job is president of the Hotel & Lodging Association of
Greater Houston, told Schiavocampo that rodeo is a family affair in
her household.  Her father roped calf, and exposed Haynes to the
rodeo.  Her husband Sedgewick and teen daughter are also competing
rodeo professionals.  The family practices regularly with the 11
horses in their grand backyard.


View Bill Picket
Invitational Rodeo segment on the “Today Show”


also talked with 85-year-old Paul Stewart, founder and director of
the Denver, Colorado-based Black American West Museum and

Heritage Center.  The B
lack western history expert

shared some little-known
annuls about early Black cowboys and their contributions to the
nation’s development. “When the United States was settled, the
slaves were the ones that broke the horses, plowed the mules,” said
Stewart. “Who’d be better able to herd the cattle across the country
than a man who was born into it?  


Hayneses treated Schiavocampo to a barrel racing lesson, about which
Savannah Guthrie commented, “Mara Schiavocampo might stick to her
day job!”


“It was exciting
to see the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo featured on nationwide
television,” commented the rodeo’s founder and producer Lu Vason.
“People who had never heard of Bill Pickett or our traveling
competition came to learn about the show and about Black cowboys and
cowgirls–contemporary and historical.”


SAVE THE DATE: BPIR Rides Into SF Bay Area – July 9
and 10, 2011

To the
delight of thrilled audiences and rodeo fans, some of the nation’s
most skilled and entertaining Black cowboys and cowgirls will ride
into the San Francisco Bay Area to compete in the exciting Bill
Pickett Invitational Rodeo (BPIR), which is celebrating its 27th
year of nationwide touring competitions.  BPIR athletes will perform
and compete at Hayward, California’s Rowell Ranch Rodeo Arena on
Saturday and Sunday, July 9 and 10, 2011.
2:30 p.m. each day, dust will fly as
spectators cheer for their favorite competitors during thrilling
Calf Ropin’, exhilarating Bareback

Ridin’, Bull Doggin, Ladies Barrel Racin’, Junior Barrel Racin’,
Ladies Steer Undercoatin’, and gripping Bull Ridin’.  Tickets are on
sale now sale now at
with prices ranging from
$16.00 to $25.00.  To plan a fun-filled group outing at the rodeo,
call (510) 864-2747 to obtain information about discounted group
ticket pricing.


To learn more about the Bill Pickett
Invitational rodeo, its competitors and tour calendar, please visit



Known as the
“Dusky Demon,” Bill Pickett (1870-1932) was the best-known African
American rodeo performer of all time. He invented the rodeo sport of
bulldogging — now known as steer wrestling — and entertained
millions of people around the world, showcasing his bronco- and
bull-riding and roping skills in Wild West shows, circuses, and
world’s fairs. The professional cowboy and rodeo champion was small
in stature but he was a larger-than-life Western legend in his own
time. His rodeo career spanned more than 40 years. In 1989, he was
inducted into the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), and
in 1996, Bill Pickett was the first rodeo athlete inducted into the
Black Cowboy Walk of Fame in Denver, Colorado.


Retired since
1916, Pickett died in April 1932 following a roping accident. His
funeral was one of the largest ever held in Oklahoma. He was buried
high on a hill at White Eagle Monument, where the Cherokee Strip
Cowboy Association set up a limestone marker in his memory.
According to Frank Billings, Colonel Zack Miller of the 101 Ranch
called him “the greatest sweat-and-dirt cowhand that ever lived.” 
For more detailed information about Bill Pickett, please visit



Lu Vason founded the
Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo
in 1984. It

is an innovative, educational and exciting perspective on the
history, challenges, and excitement of Black Americans in the
Western United States. BPIR celebrates the life of the legendary
Black cowboy Bill Pickett and other Blacks who greatly contributed
to the development of the West.


BPIR tours each year from January
through November. Its competitions are held across the country, in
cities like Atlanta, Bakersfield, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles,
Memphis, Oakland, Phoenix, St. Louis, and Washington D.C.


“Bill Pickett
Memorial Scholarship Fund,” a non-profit organization – Tax ID




Obtain high resolution rodeo images at

To schedule
interviews with BPIR producers or rodeo competitors, contact:

– Sheri Vason,,
   – Toni Beckham,
/ 408.499.3664 c




Similar Posts