Since 1957 the Marble Falls Rodeo has been going strong.
Nothing said summer time back in the early days like “The Rodeo”. Seeing Lloyd Woodley’s trucks loaded with stock rolling into town and a grand parade bringing traffic to a halt on Friday afternoon. There was excitement was in the air !
You knew it was time to rodeo when the turntable playing Hank Williams records over load speakers at the rodeo grounds could be heard all over town and then that ever familiar voice of Charley Taylor would come across to announce that things were ready to get underway. It was a magical time.
It seemed like the air was always filled with dust and there was never a breeze blowing. The stands would always be full, with pickups backed up along the fence where chairs would be set up in the back for good viewing.
HISTORY – MARBLE FALLS RODEO ASSOCIATION
The year was 1957; Charlie Taylor thought it was time to form a Marble Falls Rodeo Association. In 57, Marble Falls was a rural, ranching community. Charlie thought Marble Falls should put on its own rodeo. Together with Jack Rogers and Bobby Burnum, Charlie set out to form the Marble Falls Rodeo Association. Charlie was President, Jack Vice President and Bobby Secretary/Treasure. To raise money the Association sold memberships at 25 dollars a person. Land next to the railroad tracks (where the Huber offices are on Ave N.) was leased from the Railroad. The Arena was placed there. Adjacent to the leased land the Association bought 19 2/3 lots to clear for parking. The arena was set up so that the pens of the Marble Falls Stockyard Association, which were also along the railroad tracks, could be used for rodeo purposes. Work began to get the arena built and ready for a rodeo in 1957.
The first Rodeo in 1957 was a great success with over 2,000 people in attendance. This was also the start of the Marble Falls Rodeo parade. At that time there was also a street dance held in front of where the Old Oak Gift shop is today (Aunt Bees). In 1957 when the Association was started Marble Falls was the center of a ranching community. Rodeo, was not only something local people attended, it was something that they participated in. The Association wanted this rodeo to be something that the community would not only support, but would participate in as well. To this day that philosophy holds true. The Marble Falls Rodeo has remained an “open” Rodeo rather than a Pro Rodeo.
In 1960 the MFRA started a youth rodeo program. In the 60’s having a place to take your children to practice their roping and riding was equivalent to today’s soccer and little league fields. It could be equated to the Boys and Girls Club. A place for the youth to go and do what the youth of a rural ranching community did in those days. The MFRA provided a place to practice and provided the rodeo to show off these skills.
In 1974 the Marble Falls Rodeo Association was pitched a curve ball that caused a move that is now legend in many circles. The Railroad sold the land that the Arena was on. The association had 60 days to move. The rodeo was scheduled to be held in 60 days. The MFRA now faced two problems, 1. Where to move. 2. How to get an arena built in time for the rodeo. Then the Association had a third problem thrown at them: They could sell the 19 2/3 lots they owned adjacent to the Arena for $17,500; but there was a stipulation that the land the pens and the livestock scales were on had to go with the land the MFRA was selling. The Marble Falls Stockyard Association owned this land. In order to achieve this the Marble Falls Rodeo Association had to get the Marble Falls Stockyard Association, which was formed in 1931, to merge with the MFRA. There were 66 shareholders in the MFSYA. For the merger to take place 60% of the shares had to be turned over to the MFRA. 63 shares were turned over to the MFRA, with the stipulation that the livestock scales had to be moved to the new Rodeo grounds, and be available for use. Eventually all 66 shares where turned over to the MFRA along with the bank account of $263 dollars.
Once the two associations were merged the next problem was where to move. The Association leased land from Mrs. Roper. The Arena and Scales had to be moved to the present location. (on 281 about a ½ mile from the intersection of 281 and 71). The Scale house was built; the livestock Scales were moved to the arena grounds. The livestock scales then had to be calibrated, and approved, this cost the association $10,000. These livestock scales are still used by area ranchers today.
Now the Association had to build an arena and get it ready in time for the rodeo. The old arena was dismantled. The Stands were moved using a flat bed truck. Welders, association members and many of the town residents worked feverishly to beat the deadline. There were bets laid down on whether or not the deadline would be meet. The stories told about this move are legendary; however there is not enough space to go into all of them. The deadline was made with about 10 minuets to spare, the last gate was being welded in place when the first contestant came out of the chutes.
In time the makeup of the Marble Falls area changed from a rural ranching area to a resort, lake area. The MFRA was determined to still provide a quality open rodeo the local folks could participate in, and to keep providing a quality youth rodeo. However another goal, or mission, of the MFRA was to keep the western, ranching tradition of Marble Falls alive, for at least two weekends a year. The weekend of the open rodeo and the youth rodeo. There was also a debate on whether or not to change to a pro-rodeo. Quite a few of the new folks were used to the flashier pro rodeo circuit. The Association decided that if local cowboys could not participate part of the mission of the Association would not be meet.
In 1988 the MFRA became a non-profit corporation; and added to their mission, supporting the local youth in other ways than just rodeo. The shareholders had to agree by releasing their shares to the new non-profit corporation. Enough signatures were received, and the MFRA became a non-profit corporation on 7/29/88. However this did not affect the scales that were originally owned by the Marble Falls Stockyard Association. These scales are still used today by local ranchers and in a way keep the ranching tradition of the MFRA alive.
On September 11, 1991, the MFRA worked out a deal with Mrs. Roper and purchased the property on 281. The Marble Falls National bank financed the deal, another loan was taken out on June 12, 1998 to refurbish the arena and add to the seating capacity of the arena. The Association then started to support the community as a whole. A scholarship program was started that gave scholarships to Marble Falls high school students. These scholarships are given to local students and participation in rodeo is not a criteria. Money was set aside to donate to Marble Falls EMS and Spicewood EMS. Donations to the Boys and Girls club were set up as annual gifts, Meals on Wheels was put on the list and money was set aside for single case basis. The MFRA has given money to local students for specialized grants and is open to grant requests.
In the year 2001, three $500 scholarships were given, a donation was made to the Boys and Girls club (bringing the amount to date to $1,500.00), donations were made to the Marble Falls EMS and to the Spicewood EMS, a concession stand split program was initialized. The wrangler club of Marble Falls high school was the beneficiary of the split (the amount the wrangler club received was $2,013.00). The Association buys all the food, drinks and necessary supplies to run the concession stand, the Wranglers (in this case) run the concession stand and splits the profits. The Association gives the group a way to earn money with no outlay necessary. The rodeo banner program was designed so that all the profits go to local 4-H clubs. Along with the above the MFRA also hit a milestone in 2001 by paying off both the original note to buy the property, and the note to refurbish the arena. Since both of these payments are out of the way the MFRA has voted to raise the amount of scholarships given from 3 to 4. The MFRA hopes to be able to increase the amount given to other worthy causes as soon as the improvement committee makes its report and, all ongoing maintenance requirements are met.
The First Five Rodeo Queens