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  • Writer's picturePaul and Teresa Lowe

Bill Pickett Rodeo

Cowpokes and lovers of all things cowboy dust off myths and polish up the truth about Black Cowboys of the old west at the annual Bill Pickett Rodeo. (Held at the Industry Hills Expo Center.)

The Bill Pickett Rodeo features African American Cowboys, Cowgirls and celebrity riders and ropers who not only put on a fantastic display of skills and talent but teach cheering audiences about the true contributions of Black horsemen, bull riders, ranchers and their culture to the development of the United States. This rodeo also serves as a fund-raiser for children educational foundations.

This national and world wide touring cultural rodeo is the dream fulfillment of Lu Vason, who 32 years ago, started the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo to honor the legendary Black Cowboy. (Bill Pickett; 1870-1932) Bill Pickett invented what's known today in rodeos as bulldogging. It's the skill of riding down, roping and grabbing cattle by the horns and then wrestling them to the grown. The skill was popularized in the Buffalo Bill and Will Roger Wild West Shows. Pickett is part of the National Rodeo Hall of Fame. He's called the greatest sweat and dirt cowhand that ever lived. In 1947 a group of Black businessmen and cowboys and ranchers founded what was then called 'The Negro Cowboy's Rodeo Association.'

Lu Vason, a one time model and talent promoter, passed away in May 2015 at the age of 76. However, Vason's family and celebrity friends including SAG and Image Award winning actor James Pickens Jr, (Dr. Richard Webber of ABC TV's Grey's Anatomy.) Emmy Award Winning TV and stage actor Obba Babatunde (CBS's 'The Bold and The Beautiful'.) Babatunde is the only individual to win a 2016 Daytime Emmy Award for the CBS Network.

Co-Grand Marshal Pickens, who didn't start riding horses until age 40, calls riding and roping his coping sanctuary... a graceful getaway from the sometimes craziness of the Hollywood entertainment world. Rodeo buddy and also co-Grand Marshal Obba Babatunde has a deep excitement for what he calls the lifestyle honesty of horse riding. He's a real trainer- a horse whisperer.

The Grand Marshal of the rodeo is Emmy Award winning actor Glynn Turman (Showtime's 'House of Lies' series) and co grand marshal and award winning actor Reginald T. Dorsey (“Kings of the Evening” “The Cherokee Kid.) All have a deep love and appreciation for the spirit this Rodeo. They and many others are helping to keep the Bill Picket Rodeo and Lu Vason's dream alive for future generations. These gentlemen say they plan to keep riding until there are no more sunsets to see.

Outside of the arena folks find hand made crafts, western hats and other gear on display. There is also great smelling and even greater tasting foods everywhere including ranch style bar-b-que, fried or grilled fish and other seafood, peach cobbler and cold and spirited drinks.

This rodeo show is awesome and fantastic fun!

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