Prescott Frontier Day’s General Manager J.C. Trujillo, a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Hall of Famer, gives a tour behind the chutes during the World’s Oldest Rodeo event last year in Prescott. (Doug Cook/Courier, File)
Originally published Wednesday, June 27, 2018 at 06:04a.m.
PRESCOTT — Entering its third year, the Behind the Chutes Tour at the Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo offers fans a glimpse into what they often don’t see during rodeo performances.
Tours are available only to rodeo ticket holders at $10 per person. Participants absorb slices of history about the “World’s Oldest Rodeo.” They also get an up-close look at livestock, learn more about the rodeo’s timed and rough stock events, and meet-and-greet contestants, the stock contractor, bull fighters and specialty acts.
Tours are available prior to every evening performance, with a limit of 20 people per tour. Tours begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 28, and last through Tuesday, July 3, in the grandstands.
Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo Community Service Foundation’s Young Bloods, a community youth service group, typically helps conduct the 45-minute tours. Tour participants gather in the Corporate Hospitality Room inside the Mackin Building, 840 Rodeo Drive, before transitioning into the grandstands.
Prescott Rodeo Days General Manager J.C. Trujillo, a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Hall of Famer who’s in his 15th year as GM, opens each tour by giving a brief history of the rodeo, which began in 1888 and has run annually ever since.
Trujillo, 70, a Prescott native and a former world’s champion bareback bronc rider, is the son of the late Albert Trujillo, who was a contestant at Frontier Days in 1934. He credits “businesspeople in this community” for keeping the rodeo thriving.
Prescott Rodeo Grounds has played host to Frontier Days for the past 105 years. The historic venue’s south-side grandstand was built during the Great Depression of the 1930s, and Trujillo often mentions how horses were used to lift its roof into place. The rodeo’s original site sat northwest of the Prescott Rodeo Grounds’ property.
“Prescott Frontier Days was the first to charge admission and establish a set of rules,” Trujillo said in a 2016 tour. “It planted the seed of what pro rodeo is today. Some [of the old] rules are still used. Prescott was the first rodeo to give out a purse [money paid out to winning contestants].”
From there, Trujillo guides tour participants to the bucking chutes on the north side of the arena, where bull riding, saddle bronc riding and bareback riding are conducted. He also takes them past the pens on the arena’s west side, where steers and calves are kept for the timed events, which include steer wrestling, team roping and tie-down roping.
In the past, Prescott Frontier Days’ Greg Jordan and Kirsten Vold, general manager of longtime rodeo stock contractor Harry Vold Rodeo Company, have briefly discussed their roles. Kirsten tends to the rodeo’s livestock, equipment and chutes to keep horses and cowboys safe before, during and after the performances.
Toward the end of the rodeo tours, participants pass by the rodeo office and the warm-up arena for horses, among other important spots. Tours end from where they begin, at the Mackin Building.
To book a tour reservation for the date of your rodeo ticket, call the rodeo office at 928-445-3103.
Doug Cook is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.