River City Rodeo's History

Omaha’s River City Rodeo is over 70 years old.  The mission of the event is to celebrate the regions heritage while educating and benefiting families. The Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation was the sponsor of the Rodeo in Omaha for more than many years. The Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation was established in 1895 with a mission of building a more prosperous heartland where communities can flourish and every child can succeed.

Rodeo has a long standing tradition in Omaha, beginning in 1947 with the start of the Ak-Sar-Ben Rodeo. Held annually, this Professional Cowboys Rodeo Association (PRCA) rodeo continued at the Ak_Sar-Ben coliseum hosting many past world champion and historic cowboys.

In 1982 Ak-Sar-Ben created the River City Roundup festival, which the rodeo became a part of.

After the disolvement of the Ak-Sar-Ben grounds, in 2003 the River City Roundup festival including the Ak-Sar-Ben Stock Show and Ak-Sar-Ben Rodeo moved into the brand-new CenturyLink Center Omaha (formerly Qwest Center).

In 2003, the rodeo transformed as well becoming the Pace Picante ProRodeo Challenge offering $500,000 in prize money and hosting the biggest names in professional rodeo, many whom were world champions, and all at the top of the standings and leader board to qualify. In addition and Xtreme Bulls was held. The event was broadcast nationally on ESPN2. Following the rodeo performances were top name musical artists.

2004, 2005 - The Rodeo continued as the Pace Picante Prorodeo Challenge. Musical artists performed nightly after each performance through 2014.

2006 – The name of the rodeo changed to the ProRodeo Summer Finale, with $396,000 in prize money. Contestants qualified by being at the top of the PRCA summer tour standings. Broadcast on CBS.

2007, 2008- The name of the rodeo changed to the Ariat Playoffs. As part of the PRCA Tour, two playoff stops were held including Omaha. $400,000 in prize money was offered to the top cowboys in the world who qualified as leaders of the PRCA standings, and the event was broadcast on FSN.

2009- River City Rodeo officially became host of the Justin Boots Championships of the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour. Offering more than $830,000 in prize money, it became the second largest rodeo in the world, behind the National Finals Rodeo. The top 96 contestants in the world qualified by leading the PRCA standings. By this point more than $28 million in economic impact was made on the city of Omaha annually by Ak-Sar-Ben’s River City Roundup.

2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014- The Justin Boots Championships continued as the of the premier rodeo events in the world. More than a hundred world champions competed over the years, and millions in prize money were awarded.  Average attendance each night was 9,000, with more than 12,000 on certain occasions.

2015, 2016- The Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben reorganized focusing on youth development and the stock show. A non-PRCA affiliated rodeo was held offering rough stock and barrel racing events, open to any contestants.

2017- Continuing with the reorganization, no rodeo was held in 2017.

2018- An independent group of dedicated rodeo volunteers who value the celebration of our western heritage through the sport of rodeo and the community impact it brings come together in a volunteer capacity only to bring the excitement of professional rodeo action back to Omaha.