Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo, 77 years in the making
Vernal’s Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo traces its roots to 1932, when it started under the name of Blue Mountain Rodeo. Some 50 riders were anticipated in the event and a 50-piece band would give a concert daily. By its second year, the rodeo had become the Uintah Basin Rodeo and featured
65 rodeo events.
Bronc riding at the Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo in Vernal, Utah.After the rodeo, there were dances at the Imperial hall and boxing and wrestling bouts at the Uintah High gymnasium. In 1934, the rodeo made its first publicized charitable donations, with proceeds going to help finance the completion of the Ashley and Davis LDS ward chapels. The following year, the event cam to be known as the “Vernal Rodeo”, with airplane stunts, wild bronc riding, roping, and horse races daily. Soon the rodeo was among the largest events in the area – even rivaling the Uintah Basin in Celebration, the region’s longest-running annual event. “The Vernal Rodeo Committee can claim two triumphs,” reported the September 17, 1936, 1936 Vernal Express. “The greatest first day crowd at any gathering in Vernal and the largest day crowd, equal to many gatherings at the UBIC.” By 1935 the rodeo had started selecting rodeo royalty Enid Johnson, 19, of Vernal had to borrow a black cowboy hat and a pair of chaps to ride in the rodeo parade.
The rodeo was moved earlier in the year over time. By the end of the 1930’s, it was scheduled early August and by the end of the 40’s, rodeo events started as early as mid-July. The first rodeo under the lights was in 1948 with rodeo president Lawrence Siddoway and rodeo queen Nona Caldwell.
The rodeo was renamed over the years, first to the Vernal Professional Rodeo and later the Vernal Championship Rodeo before being renamed Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo in 1958.
Today the purse is over $70,000 dollars from the $6000.00 it began with and over 700 contestants come from around the world to participate in one of the largest rodeos in the Nation. Voted by it’s contestants as one of the premier rodeos 8 times, the Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo still thrills many and brings back the nostalgia today.
This Nationally recognized event is totally run by volunteers. There are over 400 volunteers who work on the rodeo year round. The Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo Committee appreciates the support it receives from the Uintah Basin businesses and families. Without the support of so many in the community, this event would not be at the level of excellence it has become.
Historical information provided by: Vernal Express