You can’t even begin to talk about Mesquite without mentioning the world famous Mesquite Rodeo.
Mesquite Rodeo GM Marshall Hervey says Mesquite was a farming town, with not much to offer. Then a cowboy came to town in 1958.
“Neil Gay had lost his wife and had two kids and was looking for a way to rodeo, without going out of town.”
Radar Jordan, who is a former champion himself says the rodeo wasn’t an immediate success.
“After the first four years they had a board meeting to discuss finances, and found that they had made $50 dollars,” he says.
But slowly the crowds started to find them, especially when 635 was constructed.
“It was right there, with our big sign. That’s when we started gaining popularity,” Jordan says.
Through the 70’s the crowds were steady as Mesquite continued to grow, but Laura Richie says they were about to be shot into the stratosphere starting in 1980.
“When Urban Cowboy came out, this place exploded. Everyone started wearing cowboy boots and hats and started flooding in on buses. They were coming in from all over the world,” she says.
Hervey says when cable came along, it increased their exposure even more.
“We got a contract with TNN, The Nashville Network. We became the best-known rodeo in the world.”
As the years have gone by Mesquite isn’t quite the farming town it was, but the rodeo has remained. Richie admits it’s not quite the draw that it once was, but it still has a place.
“It’s a place you can come and get real life action. It’s important that we put on a rodeo so the city kid can think about coming out of the crowd, do a little riding and get the crowd cheering for them.”
All it takes is 8 seconds.