All Inductees

West Texas Fair & Rodeo Abilene

Rodeo Events & Organizations

Under the direction, knowledge, and experience of the two original co-chairs for the rodeo committee, Jack Stricklin and Ray Boeshart, the first professional rodeo sanctioned by the Rodeo Cowboys Association took place as part of the West Texas Fair in Abilene. The rodeo took place September 17 through September 19 and featured three evening performances and a Saturday matinee. For the first rodeo, Abilene pulled out all the stops bringing in Roy Rogers and Dale Evans for entertainment. Butler and Son of Elk City, Okla., was the stock contractor, and one of the clowns was Quail Dobbs. For the first rodeo, the committee put up $5,000 in added money, and the rodeo attracted 244 contestants from all across the country. The first rodeo queen was Lianne Boeshart, then a freshman at Hardin Simmons University.

From that very first professional rodeo, the West Texas Fair established a long tradition that has become a family affair. Many of the committee members and volunteers are second, third, and fourth generations of the original committee and volunteers. Butler & Son Rodeo Company still provides the rodeo livestock as they have done since the beginning, and Quail Dobbs continued to perform at the Abilene rodeo until he retired in 1998. The rodeo has grown in size with the added money increasing from $5,000 to $28,000, and the total pay-out is now almost $80,000. The rodeo has also gained in stature within the world of professional rodeo, having been nominated for “Medium Rodeo of the Year,” in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

The professional rodeo has also helped make the West Texas Fair & Rodeo one of the major events in Abilene and a boon to the local economy. Overall, the event attracts in excess of 125,000 people a year and provides an economic impact for the community of several million dollars.