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Postcard from the Past - Legion Plans ‘Best’ Fourth of July Rodeo

Written by Dick Perue

Rodeo season jumped out of the chute in most Wyoming towns this past week, a tradition that goes back to the beginning of the Cowboy State.

For years the Saratoga Stampede was one of the top rodeos around, attracting contestants and fans from throughout the country. An article in the June 29, 1950 “Saratoga Sun” outlined the upcoming performance.

In part, the newspaper reported:

“The Legion (Angus England Post 54, American Legion) is going to have one of its best shows ever on July 4th,” Bill Whitney, rodeo committee chairman and arena manager, said this week. “I’m sure of it because of the interest which is being shown in inquiries we have been receiving both from the cowboys over the country and from people who want to come to the show. Included among the letters we have received is one from clear back in Pennsylvania.”

The article continued:

“The cutting horse contest, a new event on Saratoga show programs, is sure getting a lot of interest. This, with our bareback and saddle bronc riding, calf roping, bull dogging, good track events and a lot of the top horses and top cowboys of the country coming to the show, can’t help but make it good.

“Purses of $50 are being awarded for two free-for-all races and one cowpony race and $25 for a half-mile kid’s race. Purses of $100 will be awarded in all arena events. Purses will be split 40, 30, 20 and 10 percent.

“The cutting horse contest especially is sparking up a lot of interest,” Whitney said. . . .

But, then, that will be more horse pucky for another “Postcard.”

Whitney was a member of the University of Wyoming (UW) Rodeo Team, which placed third and fifth at the National College Finals held in San Francisco’s Cow Palace in 1949 and 1950, respectively. He was second in saddle bronc riding in 1949, right behind the great champion Dale Stiles of UW, and third in 1950, again a place behind Stiles.