City of Industry, CA-If you ever wanted to check out the black cowboy experience, the national touring Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo would be a good place to start. Actor Chris Tucker had never experienced the likes of the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo before. Until now.
He’s made the rounds of taking in a rodeo or two, but he’s never seen anything like what he saw at the Industry Hills Expo Center. As Tucker discovered, the black cowboy experience is not some tall tale read in a book someplace. It’s a real rodeo event with real horses and real bulls.
The difference is that the people executing competition in calf roping, bull riding, barrel racing, the Bill Pickett Rodeo Relay, and other cowboy-related stunts, all look like him.
After taking in this experience at the 33rd Annual Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo that took place in the City of Industry, Tucker, the star of hit films Friday, Dead Presidents, Rush Hour, Rush Hour 2 and Rush Hour 3, was moved by what he saw. Tucker said this type of event is very important to know from a cultural standpoint.
“It’s very important,” Tucker said. “For me, it’s a great experience. I’ve been to a rodeo before, but not like this. It’s our people. It’s great. You feel the spirit and the synergy around what they’re doing. It’s a great, great event.”
Tucker, who posed for selfie photos with adoring fans, said he was encouraged to attend the rodeo by fellow actor Glynn Turman, who runs a western-style camp for youths (Camp Gid D Up), alongside his wife Jo-An. The invite turned out to be a memorial one for Tucker.
“A friend of mine, Mr. Turman, invited me to come. So, I came out to enjoy it,” Tucker said.
The 33rd Annual Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo was welcomed to a packed house on Sunday, July 16. The opportunity to see black cowboys ride broncos and black cowgirls master the art of barrel racing, brought a lot of excitement to the enthusiastic audience.
There was one near scare, however, when a cowgirl found herself being thrown and slightly dragged underneath her horse during the barrel racing competition. Outside of that close call, the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo showcased some outstanding cowboys and cowgirls doing their thing.
The junior competition, which featured young cowboys as young as five, and cowgirls (seven-years-old), were just as impressive as the elder statesmen in the game as they gave a down payment in courage and talent. For Grey’s Anatomy star James Pickens Jr., the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo is priceless. He’s been part of the rodeo for two decades. And it never gets old.
“It’s such a timely and historic piece that speaks to our culture and how our participation was in the settling of the West, and a lot of that culture we don’t know,” Pickens said. “I think that the Bill Pickett (Rodeo) is one mechanism that’s been able to showcase that to families and generations. They need our support every chance we get.”
Incorporating the youth’s knowledge and understanding of history of the black cowboy and black cowgirl is an area that the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo provides, Pickens said.
“I think events like this that kind of draws attention to it,” Pickens said. “There’s always a financial component, but I think to get it into schools and get representatives out there, I think that is probably the best way to get the word out.”
For Tucker, the rodeo represents an opportunity for young people to get exposed to doing things out of the box and see something different like being in an outdoor setting.
“It’s just a part of being nature, too,” said Tucker. “I think you need to get young people out more in nature, out of the city, because I feel better when I’m out in nature instead of being in the city. I think it’s very important…mentally, just to relax and be stressed-free, and to enjoy the horses and other animals. Get them outside and get them on a horse or get them familiar with a horse.”