This rodeo is held twice a year in Kissimmee. February is for the Silver Spurs Rodeo and Fair; the Rodeo and Kissimmee Ribfest takes place in October.
It was at one time one of the largest rodeos in the United States. The Florida Cracker culture was strong in this part of Florida. Cattle was king, and the ranches needed lots of cowboys to work the business.
The demographics have changed in Central Florida, with fewer cowboys and pioneers now and more Latinos and Yankees, so attendance has declined slightly in the past few years.
It now bills itself as the largest rodeo east of the Mississippi River, and it is a pageant worth attending. It is still a celebration of Old Florida days with some modern Latin music thrown in now and then for spice.
The rodeo goes back to 1944, when the Silver Spurs Riding Club held its first rodeo as a program to sell war bonds during World War Two. In fact, admission to the first rodeo was by purchasing a war bond. The first rodeo was held on the patriotic day of July 4, 1944. The rodeo grounds were donated by Osceola County rancher Henry O. Partin, one of the legendary cattle kings of his day.
Starting in 1951, the organization added a February rodeo. It is so much a part of today's culture in Kissimmee and nearby St. Cloud that is a school holiday for all of Osceola County students and teachers. Many of them attend the rodeo.
You will see bull riding, bronco busting, barrel racing, calf roping and other cowboy and cowgirl sports. Many of the rodeo participants are members of the pioneer families that first settled in this area. It can be a rough life, but to a lot of these hardy Florida Crackers there is no other way they'd want to live. Every year a rodeo queen is elected, and she is always pretty.
The rodeo grounds are in the 120 acre Osceola Heritage Park on the north side of U.S.-192 east of Kissimmee. Today's facility includes a climate controlled indoor stadium seating more than 8,000.
The Florida State Legislature has designated the Silver Spurs Rodeo as the official state rodeo.