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PRCA For The Record: North Platte

by Matt Naber | Jun 12, 2019

PRCA Media Coordinator

The story behind the rodeo in North Platte, Neb., sounds like the premise for a historical fiction movie as it combines an American icon, wild rides and high stakes that grew into a high-profile competition for ProRodeo world champions. 

William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody staged the first North Platte rodeo with bronc riding and buffalo riding on July 4, 1882. According to the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, historians recognize it as America’s first spectator rodeo and the beginning of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Shows, which brought the Western experience to audiences around the world. 

Originally known as the Old Glory Blowout, Buffalo Bill’s competition was held at a privately owned racetrack in town and in conjunction with the last of the big, open-range roundups in Nebraska.

Now, the rodeo is held each June as part of the Nebraskaland Days Festival and is Nebraska’s largest outdoor rodeo with ProRodeo world champions as frequent competitors. 

The role North Platte has played in the sport of professional rodeo was commemorated in 2008 when the Buffalo Bill Rodeo was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame

Since 1953, the Buffalo Bill Rodeo has hosted some of the PRCA’s biggest competitors, but only the best have left their mark with a rodeo record. 

Tie-down roper Raymond Hollabaugh has the longest standing record at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo with his 1985 two-head average of 16.3 seconds. 

Hollabaugh was a six-time qualifier for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (1982-85, 1990, 1997) and a two-time champion of the Dodge Texas Circuit Finals Rodeo (1982 and co-champion in 1985). 

The Texas cowboy’s ProRodeo career spanned from 1978 through 2014. During that time, he amassed $592,484 in prize money and wins at major rodeos such as Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days in 1983, the Cody (Wyo.) Stampede in 1992 and the Rooftop Rodeo in Estes Park, Colo., in 1992.  

He also shares the Greeley (Colo.) Stampede tie-down roping record of 7.6 seconds. Hollabaugh set the Greeley record in 1990 and was matched by Fred Whitfield (1994) and Charley Russell (2007). 

Some records remain untouched for years because the event hasn't been held annually. For instance, North Platte hosted steer roping from 1958-60 and then didn’t have it again until 2009 and hasn’t had it since.

ProRodeo athletes will have their shot at breaking Hollabaugh’s records, and the rest, June 12-15.

Rodeo records

Total payout: $113,435, 2015
All-around: $4,531, Josh Peek, 2016
Bareback riding: 88 points, Ken Lensegrav, 1997; Kelly Timberman, 2004; Tom McFarland, 2012; Steven Peebles, 2013
Steer wrestling: 3.3 seconds, Dean Gorsuch, 2014 (7.1/2, Jon Ragatz, 2008)
Team roping: 4.4 seconds, Curry Kirchner/Chase Boekhaus, 2018 (10.4/2, Ty Blasingame/J.W. Borrego, 2014)
Saddle bronc riding: 88 points, Rusty Wright, 2016
Tie-down roping: 7.4 seconds, Doug Pharr, 2007 (16.3/2, Raymond Hollabaugh, 1985)
Barrel racing:  17.17 seconds, Stevi Hillman, 2017
*Steer roping: 10.0 seconds, Dan Fisher, 2009 (38.0/3, Leo Campbell, 2009) 
Bull riding: 93 points, Mark Cain, 1992

*Only held in 1958-60 and 2009

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