OVER 80 YEARS OF DAYTON RODEO TRADITION!
In 1937, three young cowboys – Allen Porter, Duane Vegors and Vern Danielson - began a legacy. With a big dream and a little talent, the three young boys would entertain picnickers with rope tricks in the town park. As the audience grew, so did the desire to entertain and the need for a larger place.
In 1942, the show site was moved to Porter’s Pasture, where the ground served for seating and one thin wire made an arena. At the first show in the new location, the boys passed a hat and collected $14.72. A local kid’s hangout added $5.00. This created a prize package of $19.72, and the Dayton Rodeo was born.
Seven years later, the size of the audience and the number of contestants again outgrew the makeshift accommodations, and the rodeo moved to the local golf course. The town council approved of this idea, but the golfers were none too pleased. The rodeo ruined the ground and forced the golfers to water it often and patch it with sod.
As the rodeo progressed, better fencing for the arena and some second-hand collapsible bleachers were purchased, but this still didn’t solve the problems for the golfers. A committee began eyeing a piece of timber just south of town as a permanent home for the first rodeo. They began their planning and offered bids on the area, and by 1955, the land was purchased and groomed for the first rodeo. The trees were cleared from the hillside and the large open area at the bottom created a natural amphitheater. Bleachers were purchased for the hillside and a cook shack was built to accommodate the cowhands and workers.
By this time, the Dayton Labor Day Rodeo was a well-known event and riders came from across the United States to participate. As the crowds grew, so did the work and dedication required of those involved. Soon, the Dayton Celebration Committee formed. It consisted of six Wrangler members and six Dayton Community Club members.
Today, the rodeo is sanctioned by the PRCA and the prize money totals over $40,000. The caliber of the cowboy and the stock has grown with the prize money and the crowds.
Of course, it takes a lot more than first-rate cowboys and stock to make this annual event a success. In addition to the Rodeo Celebration Committee, volunteers come from the Dayton Community Club, the Dayton Wranglers members, Dayton Fire Department, and hundreds of others who pitch in and help. Without their diligent and faithful work, the weekend’s activities would not be possible. All of the clubs and organizations in this small town, as well as many people from the surrounding communities pitch in and do their share. We take our hats off to all of those who contribute at all levels.
Highlights from recent years:
2008: This was our largest crowd for the Sunday night performance since 1963! Thank you for supporting our first "Tough Enough to Wear Pink" rodeo! We raised nearly $3000 for breast cancer research!
2009: What a show we had thanks to record breaking crowds! Fans were amazed as “The Wild Child” Troy Lerwill demonstrated his talents as a world class stunt rider and whit in the arena.
2010: You will certainly want to save Labor Day Weekend on your 2012 calendar right now! Check out the rest of our website to see the list of entertainment we are planning. Keep checking back as we are adding more to the agenda all year!
2011: What a show on Saturday Night with a Surprise for many as Saddle Bronc Rider Wade Sundell was there to ride!
2012: Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Dayton Rodeo
2017: The 2017 Dayton Rodeo celebrated it's 80th Anniversary - '80 Strong'. The newest improvement project was the calf pens and roping boxes - adding state of the art rodeo equipment to the Dayton Rodeo Arena for many years of use!
2018: Not Our 1st Rodeo - Our 81st! Mother nature wasn't very forgiving - creating a soupy mess for everyone! We were fortunate to able to get in all 4 performances with no rain - but it certainly didn't help Fill the Hill! Rodeo grounds preparations in 2018 included a new rodeo office and rescue building - further enhancing the Dayton Rodeo to a pro facility.