22nd Annual Big Bend Ranch Rodeo to be held this weekend in Alpine

ALPINE — This weekend, dust will rise again in the ring at the S.A.L.E. Arena in Alpine. Working cowboys from all over the Southwest will showcase their skills in events like cattle sorting, wild cow milking and ranch bronc riding. Gates open for ticket sales both Friday and Saturday nights at 5:30 p.m. for dudes and cowpokes alike hoping for a prime seat in the ring. 

Self-proclaimed “head cat wrangler” Mattie Sargent explained that what makes Alpine’s rodeo special is its partnership with the Working Ranch Cowboys Association (WRCA). Unlike pro rodeo events, WRCA competitors showcase skills they use in everyday life. “Our competitors have to prove that they work on a ranch somewhere to be a member of the WRCA,” she explained. Many of the events require them to use the same saddles and gear they use every day, rather than investing in glitzy show tack.

Sargent serves as the point person for the Big Bend Ranch Rodeo Committee, which has hosted the event for over two decades. In 2020, the group was awarded the WRCA Rodeo of the Year. Allowing working cattlemen and women a place to show off their stuff brings prime family fun to Alpine year after year. “It’s got different types of events than what you see in a normal rodeo,” she said. “It gets you as close to watching cowboys on a ranch as you can without actually being on a ranch.”

This weekend’s festivities will also include a youth-led event, held at 2 p.m. on Saturday. John and Mary Ann Luedecke coordinate the Youth Working Cow Horse competition, a Ranch Horse Association of America (RHAA) event. “We started it for the ranch teams that were entered, to be able to bring their kids and have them have something to do,” John Luedecke explained. The youngsters will compete in more or less the same events as the adults, with two brackets split between competitors under 12 and ages 13-17. 

Ticket sales from the Big Bend Ranch Rodeo Committee benefit the Sul Ross Rodeo Team, nine-time national championship winners and the birthplace of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. Next weekend’s event will take place on the Sul Ross Rodeo Team’s turf, with concessions provided by the SRSU Meat Lab and Wildlife Club. Stock for the competition has been provided by a number of local ranchers, including the Mellards, the Dyers and the Means. 

Tickets for the rodeo will only be available the night of each event, starting at 5:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. performances on Friday and Saturday. Children 12 and under get in free; tickets for everyone else are $10 a head. To pitch in to the “Buy a Cowboy a Meal” program providing catering for competitors, you can make a donation in person at Big Bend Saddlery and OutWest Feed or mail one in to Big Bend Ranch Rodeo, PO Box 2140, Alpine, TX, 79831.

The S.A.L.E. Arena is located just east of Alpine on Highway 90, on the same strip as the Sul Ross Meat Lab and the College of Natural and Agricultural Resources.