“It’s Cowboys Versus Time”: Discussing the National Black Rodeo Finals with Frank Edwards

If you grew up in the South – especially in a rural area or a smaller city – chances are good that you’ve been to a local or regional rodeo. You may even have attended a larger rodeo event with big-name cowboys and famous bulls. But if you’ve never attended the National Black Rodeo Finals, an annual event presented by the Real Cowboy Association that will host two performances, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., at CenturyLink Center on Saturday, Nov. 21, then you haven’t experienced a rodeo like it.

The National Black Rodeo Finals logo.
The National Black Rodeo Finals logo.

The 2 p.m. rodeo on Nov. 21 – geared toward a younger audience – will feature performances by rapper Hurricane Chris as well as the Booker T. Washington High School Marching Band, in addition to the rodeo action. The 8 p.m. show will feature live performances by Ms. Jody, Jody Whatley and Shalamar, and the Grambling State University Marching Tiger Band. The National Black Rodeo Finals are a lot more than a rodeo – the event is like a huge party that takes place at a rodeo.  

“What I wanted to do was make this like the Super Bowl of rodeo,” Real Cowboy Association head honcho Frank Edwards told me during an interview at the CenturyLink Center on Thursday.

I asked Edwards to name his three favorite elements of the National Black Rodeo Finals, and here’s what he told me:

1. The Crowd. CenturyLink Center typically sells out for the National Black Rodeo Finals. After selling out several years in a row, Edwards and his team decided to add – for the first time in history – a 2 p.m. matinee performance of Saturday’s rodeo. Tickets to the 8 p.m. performance are running low. Tickets to either performance may be purchased here

“To see 10,000 or 15,000 people just screaming and hollering, there’s nothing more exciting than that,” Edwards said.  

2. The Grambling Band. Folks don’t just scream and holler – they also dance. Especially when the Grambling State University Tiger Marching Band enters the building. I attended the 2013 event, and let me tell you: When the Grambling band hits the arena floor…let’s just hope that the roof of CenturyLink Center is fastened on tightly. 

“Many people have only seen the Grambling band on television,” Edwards said. “It’s amazing how many people tell me that they come to the event to see the Grambling band.”  

3. The Cowboys. Even with celebrity cameos and hip-hop concerts, the rodeo is still the heart of the event. Edwards told me that more than 300 black cowboys will be taking part in Saturday’s events, and many will have traveled great distances to participate in events like calf roping and bull riding. You can bet that those cowboys will be aiming to put on an unforgettable show.  

“You’re gonna see some cowboys try to make some exciting rides on some dangerous bulls,” Edwards told me. “The fans love it because it’s cowboys against time. That’s the essence of rodeo: cowboys against time.”  

Tickets to the National Black Rodeo Finals are $25-$45 each (depending on the performance) and can be purchased here. The price will increase $5 on the day of the show.

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