Seven men sitting at Badlands Saloon became inspired. ‘Bring gay rodeo "home" to the state of Nevada where it all began’. The year was 1992, and this group was a tight knit circle of friends and experienced regional rodeo participants. Bob Edwards, Randy Larson, Tom Blythe, Robert Kingham, Tom Tyre, Gary L'abbe and Randy Parker decided Las Vegas must have its own gay rodeo association. "The Southern Nevada Gay Rodeo Association" was born and gained fifty new members in the first year.
The name was altered that same year to the Nevada Gay Rodeo Association to represent the entire state when the original founders took their places as the 13th membership delegation at the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) convention in Minnesota. This change includes and pays homage to sister city Reno, NV, where Gay Rodeo started in 1976.
It took two years for NGRA to produce its first unofficial rodeo event when in June 1994, a Gymkhana was staged at Horseman's Park in Las Vegas. Gymkhana is a non-sanctioned rodeo event designed to develop experience in running a full-scale rodeo event. IGRA officials attended and showed strong support to sanction the NGRA's first rodeo. The dream was to be able to produce an annual rodeo and bring Nevada’s gay rodeo history full circle.
And that dream became reality on a hot June weekend in 1996 – the first Bighorn Rodeo was held. And NGRA has been hosting rodeo events ever since. Through hard work, deep heart and great spirit... as big and as blue as the western sky... the dream begun by seven men in 1992 is now being fulfilled and realized.
NGRA’s purpose has not changed in the past two decades: First, to produce gay rodeo and thus enrich and enhance the western lifestyle; and second, to raise monies for various local charities through ongoing fund raising. Over the years, NGRA has supported the Nevada Aids Project, Pedrigal House, Aide for AIDS of Nevada (AFAN), Golden Rainbow, and Reach Out - an organization dedicated to children afflicted with AIDS and many more. Currently NGRA is proud to sponsor The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada and the Sin Sity Sisters AIDS Drug Assistance Program as these programs show strong support for those in need in the local area.
Thus, history does not always repeat itself... rather it comes full circle and the NGRA is proud to contribute to that process. In 2011, NGRA boasts a membership of over 125 people and has one of the largest active chapters of the IGRA. NGRA continues to evolve and is accepted as one of the most recognized charitable groups within the local community.
NGRA wants everyone to learn to love rodeo - and for those who already do to "come home" once a year. Through Bighorn Rodeo we hope participants young and old will pay respect to those involved; will become energized and uplifted; and will return to their respective states enriched by the experience! The foundation for NGRA Rodeo is a deep desire to promulgate the western lifestyle... the very idea that Phil Ragsdale held back in 1976 when Gay Rodeo was born.