The Clovis Rodeo is about much more than drawing a crowd. In fact, many proceeds raised throughout the weekend are funneled right back into the community, with a good chunk slated toward youth organizations, like the Boy Scouts, in Clovis.
With this emphasis on community and charity, the Clovis Rodeo Association is the perfect partner for actor and philanthropist James Pickens Jr. and his foundation’s annual charity roping.
In 2015, the James Pickens Jr. Foundation Charity Roping was brought to Clovis to kick-off rodeo week in Clovis and Pickens said it was such a success then that he wanted to bring the prestigious event, which raises funds for two youth-oriented charities, Camp Giddy-Up and Hands 4 Hope, back to Clovis.
“They are amazing hosts here,” Pickens said. “They have just been so gracious and so accommodating and to start off their rodeo week is an honor.”
Vince Genco of the Clovis Rodeo Association said the association is proud to host the event and work with Pickens.
“Last year was our first year having this event and it worked out very well,” Genco said. “Mr. Pickens is very easy to work with and he is very much a gentleman to be around. Everything worked out really well last year, so we decided to do it again this year and it is just a good way to kick off the week.”
The location is prime, Pickens said, as cowboys are already traveling in the area, from the rodeo in Red Bluff down to the one in Clovis.
“Obviously, they have the big rodeo that is here toward the end of the week and a lot of guys, especially the pro guys are coming down from Red Bluff and up north from the West coast swing and we thought we would try to catch them here and they have a chance to make a little bit of extra money before they travel on down south to other rodeos,” Pickens said. “This has such a huge tradition. The rodeo is over 100 years old and most of these cowboys know about it and have most of their lives so we thought it would be a great marriage for the two of us.”
In 2015, Pickens said his foundation was able to raise $10,000 for each of the two charities it supports and the 2015 winners were able to take home just under $6,000 a person.
The two charities the foundation donates to are Camp Giddy-Up and Hands 4 Hope.
Camp Giddy-Up is a cowboy camp that exposes inter-city at-risk youth to the western lifestyle and the cowboy way. Kids from the Los Angeles area are able to go visit a ranch and ride horses, camp, swim and see another side.
“[Camp Giddy-Up] is a great experience and has impacted a lot of those kids and the direction they take in their lives,” Pickens said.
Hands 4 Hope is an afterschool program that provides a safe haven for kids after school hours, especially those kids coming from single-parent households who don’t want to be at home alone. The program provides homework help, a computer lab and a music lab for those interested in music production.
As a fan of team roping, Pickens said he started hosting the charity roping event seven years ago to draw attention to the sport as well as support the two charities.
“I’ve been a big fan of team roping for a long time,” Pickens said. “It is birthed out of original ranch work and they took it and it transcended to the next level and it’s a blast. I still rope recreationally. I roped a couple of weeks ago but with my schedule so crazy it is kind of hard to find time to practice and that is the big thing, you have to practice, but I roped a couple weeks ago and had a great time.”