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What Is Some History About The First National Finals Rodeo (NFR)?

The first National Finals Rodeo (NFR) was held in December, 1959 in the Livestock Coliseum on the fairgrounds of the State Fair of Texas in Dallas, TX.

The first National Finals Rodeo was sanctioned by the Rodeo Cowboys Association (RCA), an organization formerly known as the Cowboys’ Turtle Association and that would later be known as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).

Qualifying and Events

The top 15 contestants (as determined by money earned at rodeos during the regular, 11 month rodeo season prior to NFR) in each of the 5 standard rodeo events were qualified to compete at the first NFR.

At that time, the 5 standard rodeo events were:

Prize Money At The First National Finals Rodeo

The 69 contestants at the first NFR (see below) competed for entry fee money plus $57,500 added by the State Fair of Texas.

Contestants At The First National Finals Rodeo

There were a total of 69 contestants from the United States and Canada competing at the first NFR. The number of contests from each state and Canada were:

United States


National Finals Rodeo World Champions - 1959

The World Champions at the 1959 National Finals Rodeo (as determined by the most money earned during the regular season plus winnings at the NFR) were:

The all-around championship (the most money earned in 2 or more events) was won by Jim Shoulders, Oklahoma.

National Finals Rodeo Locations

* In 2020, state and local restrictions related to the Covid 19 pandemic prevented the NFR from being held in Las Vegas, NV. It was moved to Arlington, Texas where it was held at Globe Life Field, a baseball park that serves as the home ballpark of the Texas Rangers baseball team. Globe Life underwent a major, if temporary, transformation to provide a location for the 2020 NFR.

Below: 5-time World Champion steer wrester Luke Branquinho competes in the steer wresting during the third round of the 2004 National Finals Rodeo. He won World Champion titles in 2004, 2008, 2011, 2012, and 2014.

Luke Branquinho in the steer wresting at the National Finals Rodeo

By Mike Copeman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Below: The Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard rehearsing for the 2012 National Finals Rodeo.

Horses rehearsing for the 2012 National Finals Rodeo

By Lance Cpl. Samuel Ranney ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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