Barrel racing, 2000. Photo: Sarah Hoskins
Palestine Rodeo (PRC)
the "Best Small Town Rodeo in America" by competing cowboys, the
Palestine rodeo is the town's Labor Day Festival's main event,
attracting 20,000 people each year.
The festival's two-hour parade, Saturday morning
chuck wagon breakfast, Saturday flea market, and the free
entertainment on the bandstand all complement rodeo activities. The
rodeo show has four performances, and attracts cowboys from across
The festival evolved from a fundraiser for a local
youth center in 1950, when a group of Palestine citizens revived a
railroaders' Old Timers Picnic as a Labor Day celebration. The
festival had a parade, a youth king and queen contest, a baseball
tournament, and other competitive games. In 1954, management of the
successful event was turned over to the chamber of commerce. The
Labor Day festival was chosen as the event to also celebrate
Palestine's Sesquicentennial in 1961 when a horse show was added to
the festivities. In 1967, the horse show was replaced with a
professional rodeo, held in a makeshift arena in a baseball
Over the course of several years, volunteers built an
arena for the rodeo. Its facade was designed to appear as Fort
LaMotte, in homage to the town's roots and French explorer John
LaMotte. The town's name, Palestine, derives from remarks made by
LaMotte, who explored the area as part of the 1678 LaSalle
expedition. Upon seeing the area, he exclaimed it looked like "the
land of milk and honey." The area was first settled in 1812 around
Fort LaMotte. Later Fort Foot was built to accommodate the growing
number of settlers.
Documentation includes a text report, 20 slides, a
video, photos and newspaper clippings.
Originally submitted by: David D. Phelps, Representative (19th District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.