Aside from that unfortunate bump, the NGRA indeed found a more welcoming home in Las Vegas, and two years later, on June 15-16, 1996, the NGRA held its first Big Horn Rodeo.
The Big Horn Rodeo has since become one of the southern Nevada gay community's premier annual events, and one of the most well attended rodeos on the IGRA circuit.
The auction managers referred Ragsdale to a local rancher who provided the animals and Ragsdale drove back to Reno at 10 o'clock the night before the rodeo was scheduled.
Early the next morning, the first Reno Gay Rodeo opened with five cows, ten calves, and one Shetland pony.
( Archives/1981/07/JUL 17.pdf) The rodeo that year drew 10,000 people; in 1982, when comedienne Joan Rivers served as grand marshal, more than 20,000 attended, despite ongoing anti-gay protests.
By 1983, however, the AIDS epidemic had come to Nevada, which provided a potent new weapon for the Independent American Party, its newly formed anti-gay Pro-Family Christian Coalition, the Patriots to Normalize Reno, and various other Christian and politically conservative hangers-on.
Ragsdale approached the Washoe County Fairgrounds manager and the earliest date the facility was available was October 2, 1976.