Reno Rodeo 100: Living Near The Horses

Jun 28, 2019

The Reno Rodeo 100 is a multimedia storytelling series wherein people connected to the event have shared intimate, up close tales from the rodeo during open mic events and as part of more in-depth interviews with rodeo documentarians. In this excerpt, Bill Richards describes what it was like living in a tack room. He also reflects on how he was mesmerized by the first Reno Rodeo that he attended in 1947.

Richards left school before he finished eighth grade and began living near the horse stalls at the Reno Rodeo. He made a living by walking the large animals, earning $2-3 a day. He had makeshift home accessories and slept in close proximity with nature’s forces.

“My rug by my bunk was a gunny sack cut open, and in the stall, you could look up, laying in bed and look up in the ceiling, the roof, and see the sunlight shining through. And when it rained, you could see the rain coming at you," Richards said.

Reno Rodeo 100 - Bill Richards from Jessi LeMay on Vimeo.

On July 4, 1947, Richards attended the Reno Rodeo for the first time. He loved all of the activities and the clowns caught his attention.

“One was Homer Holcomb, the main bullfighter, and his sidekick, Slim Pickens. I remember Slim Pickens had a donkey. He’d rope a calf with that donkey. Soon as you got the calf roped, the donkey would sit down,” Richards said.

The Reno Rodeo 100 is a multimedia project created by local documentarian Jessi LeMay. To see all of KUNR's coverage of the 2019 Reno Rodeo, visit Spurs & Mud: A Century Of Rodeo.