Back in the Saddle: Rodeo Scottsdale continues for the 67th year
Back in the Saddle: Rodeo Scottsdale continues for the 67th year

Back in the Saddle: Rodeo Scottsdale continues for the 67th year

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Rodeo is in Dave Alford’s blood. He rode in the late ’60s and early ’70s, until he fell into rodeo production.

Four decades later, he’s producing the Rodeo Scottsdale, which has bucked its way through town for 67 years. This year’s event is Thursday, March 5, to Sunday, March 8, at WestWorld of Scottsdale.

“We look forward to the rodeo each year, adding more talent and creating a buckin’ fun weekend for all ages that you won’t forget,” says Alford, Rodeo Scottsdale’s general manager. “Over the past six decades, the only thing that that has changed about the rodeo is the location. We sustain the roots and tradition to keep the rodeo spirit alive.”

Beginning Thursday, March 5, Rodeo Scottsdale’s professional all-bull riding event jumps out of the chute with roping, riding, thrills and spills. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event showcases more than 50 top bull riders competing for their 8 seconds of glory of trying to stay on top of the most highly ranked bulls.

More than 20,000 fans from all over the country will witness more than 500 contestants competing Friday and Saturday evenings, and Sunday afternoon for tens of thousands of dollars in prize money. The full, traditional rodeo will have seven events, including roping, barrel racing, bronc and bull riding.

“It’s the rodeo you would have seen in the ’50s and ’60s,” Alford says. “There are not a lot of fireworks and explosions. It’s a good, clean, wholesome traditional rodeo.”

Other events include the lively Coors Hoedown, which takes place after the rodeo on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and features popular country music for kids of all ages. Country music band Jason Boland and the Stragglers highlights the music scene with a performance on Saturday.

Thursday will feature 50 bull riders, while Friday and Saturday there will be traditional seven events. This is Alford’s 37th year with the rodeo.

“I grew up in Scottsdale,” he says. “I’m one of those rare natives. As a young kid going into it, when I was a teenager, I competed in rodeo.

“My father was on the original committee that started the rodeo in 1953. It’s pretty much in my blood.”

The tradition of rodeo is what keeps him motivated and inspired.

“Rodeo is a good American tradition,” he says. “With hard work and practice, you get results. My kids are all involved. I have five kids and they’re very involved in putting on the rodeo, and now my grandkids are, too.”

He remembers the days when Scottsdale schools excused kids from school early to attend the rodeo.

“When I was a kid in the ’50s and ’60s, they let us out of school early on Fridays to go to the rodeo,” he says. “My sisters and all the girls in school loved it. It was the only day they could wear jeans because there was a dress code. It’s changed. There aren’t many people raised in the agricultural world or the rodeo world.”

Nevertheless, the event sells out on Saturday night because the interest is there.

“I see a lot of the younger kids getting into rodeo,” he says. “Some make money at it. They work hard and stay healthy and practice. The future of rodeo is bright.”

Rodeo Scottsdale, WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale, 480.648.4369,, various times Thursday, March 5, to Sunday, March 8, $5-$45.