2019 ProRodeo Legend Cotton Rosser Honored

ProRodeo Hall of Fame stock contractor Cotton Rosser was recognized as the 2019 Legend of ProRodeo during the 12th annual Wrangler Gold Buckle Gala at the South Point Grand Ballroom in Las Vegas, Dec. 2.

“Well I’ve had a few awards from the PRCA and I’m really excited about this one,” Rosser said, adding that he’s been a member since 1947. “The PRCA has been very good to me.”

Rosser purchased the Flying U Rodeo Ranch in 1956, which is the oldest continuing rodeo livestock company in the United States.

In 1985, Rosser was named PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year, and in 1995 he was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame for a lifetime of contributions toward developing the sport of professional rodeo.

More recently, Rosser received the PRCA Donita Barnes Contract Personnel Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.

Rosser and his son, Reno, operate the Flying U Rodeo and Rosser Rodeo stock contracting companies based in Marysville, Calif. They produce about 50 rodeos a year.

At 91 years old, Rosser still rides a horse into the arena, and he wouldn’t have it any other way as he’s considered the “P.T. Barnum” of professional rodeo. He has searched out ideas from sources as remote from the sport as ice shows and circuses, looking for something special to add to his productions.

Rosser is a pioneer in the rodeo industry who was ahead of his time in developing the entertainment side of rodeo.

For more than 60 years, Rosser has been known for his spectacular, flamboyant opening ceremonies at rodeos on the West Coast and for many years at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

“I think what stood out the most was working to get the National Finals here (Las Vegas) and every night had a different opening,” Rosser said. “Now, it is more Hollywood jazz and pyrotechnics, but I put on Western acts like having Reba McEntire sing.”

The other side of Rosser is his history as a top cowboy. He started competing in all of rodeo’s standard events as a teenager and later as a member of his college rodeo team at Cal Poly University-San Luis Obispo.

“I just always wanted to be a cowboy and I did it clear to the end,” Rosser said, adding that movies starring Roy Rogers, Gene Autrey and John Wayne inspired him.

As a professional, he won buckles, saddles and trophies. Among his many titles, one of Rosser’s highlights was winning the all-around title at the 1951 Grand National Rodeo in San Francisco.

“I was a city boy raised in the city, and I always wanted a horse and I learned to ride calves and steers,” Rosser said. “I rodeoed hard.”

Rosser is the 14th person to be honored with the ProRodeo Legend award, following Jake Barnes, Jim Shoulders, Clem McSpadden, Harry Vold, Larry Mahan, Shawn Davis, Dean Oliver, Donnie Gay, Benny Binion, Mel Potter, Neal Gay, Michael Gaughan and Keith Martin.

Courtesy of PRCA

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