BIG SPRING, Texas – A small group of fewer than 30 people work year-round for one simple goal: to produce the best Big Spring Cowboy Reunion and Rodeo possible.
“I cannot brag enough on the volunteers that help put on our rodeo,” said Dane Driver, a longtime member of the volunteer committee that organizes the annual rodeo, now in its 82nd year. “If it wasn’t for the strength of the individuals on the committee, it wouldn’t happen. Their heart is putting that rodeo on.
“The small-business owners who are on the committee always reroute their time and energy, and they have people in their offices who focus on the rodeo. They have to make major adjustments to their businesses to handle what they handle.”
Driver knows about the work. He’s the third generation of his family to be involved in aspects of the celebration. By the time the competition begins later this week, the committee will hand over the bulk of the production to the staff from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, a Dallas-based stock contracting company that has been part of the Big Spring rodeo for more than a decade.
“We are Pete’s first rodeo, and we’re proud of that,” Driver said. “I remember when he met with my dad and said what he’s about. It’s been that and more. It’s been a hell of a building process watching his company grow. The good thing for us is that he’s grown our production. The production he’s done for us has done nothing but get better.
“What he does for our production is noticed. A lot of people can put on a rodeo, but very few can put a production on at the level Pete does. He constantly strives to have the best people in the industry with him.”
The Carr firm produces about 30 rodeos a year. Each of the past two seasons, 27 Carr animals were selected to perform at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the sport’s grand finale that takes place in Las Vegas each December.
“What I really like about Pete is that he has treated us like we’re one of the big winter rodeos,” Driver said. “He doesn’t treat us small even though we’re a small rodeo. He gets a lot of respect for that. It makes the local guys feel like they’re doing all this for a reason.
“When our committee hands him the reins, they’re confident they’re going to get the best bang for the buck. Pete’s going to carry on and showcase what they’ve been working their tails off all year long.”
In addition to having a strong production presence and great bucking animals, the Big Spring rodeo also will feature entertainer Troy Lerwill, one of the most decorated funnymen in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
“I’m excited about Troy being back,” Driver said. “He brings a great element to our show. We’re able to bring something in that’s different, and we’ve had a lot of people come to our rodeo from out of state. They may not be the typical rodeo fans, but we strive to give them something different so they’re talking about it the next day. Troy gives us that opportunity.”
Most importantly, though, the Big Spring Cowboy Reunion and Rodeo is about carrying on a tradition that has been running continuously for more than eight decades.
“We feel like we put on an awesome show and have been able to do it 82 years running,” Driver said. “We have a strong history, and we have a good amount of second-, third- and fourth-generation families that are still involved in this rodeo. The history and the legacy of what we’re able to do is what makes me the proudest.”
Economical entertainment and a great legacy is just what the West Texas community is all about.