Yee-haw! Every year, the Prescott area welcomes rodeo fans from around the world to the annual celebration of its western heritage, Prescott Frontier Days®. The World’s Oldest Rodeo® sits as the jewel in this crown, and continues to amaze young and old with its displays of ranch-style thrill and skill.
2022 also marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Prescott-set film Junior Bonner, and on June 18, 2022, the Sharlot Hall Museum opened a new exhibit to showcase the film’s behind-the-scenes story and the rodeo’s long history. “To the Rodeo, Pardner!” explores the origin of rodeos from their Spanish influence to today’s favorite events such as saddle bronc riding. The role of the rodeo cowboy intertwines with these stories.
Also featured in the exhibit, “Junior Bonner” follows the story of a rodeo cowboy (Steve McQueen) who returns to his hometown of Prescott for the rodeo, with the self-set task of overcoming an ornery bull named Sunshine. Filmed on location in Prescott, the movie captures much of the local spirit and color of the Prescott rodeo and surrounding celebration.
This exhibit invites visitors to engage with the history and tradition of Prescott’s July 4th celebration and appreciate the World’s Oldest Rodeo® as more than an annual event, but as a livelihood for the rodeo cowboys, community of Prescott, and others. It’s “To The Rodeo, Pardner!”