Cowger hails from Pauls Valley, Okla., but moved to the Bay Area when his father took a job in the shipyards. Eventually, the family made their way to Central Calif. and settled on the Anderson/Clayton Ranch in Cantua Creek, Calif. Cowger was a student at Cantua Elementary and Tranquillity High School. He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Terry Miller, for 54 years. They have three sons, Kenny, Corey, and Rusty, and have six grandchildren.
Expressing his family’s involvement with the rodeo, Cowger said, “My sons are in the rodeo, my daughter-in-law is a member, and my grandsons are a part of it, too. It’s a family affair.”
According to the Clovis Rodeo Association, “Cowger began his 31-year career with the State of California in 1969 as a firefighter with the Mid Valley Fire Protection District at the Caruthers fairgrounds…He traveled throughout the state, was an instructor at the Fire Academy in Amador County, and retired in 2000 as a Battalion Chief in Madera County.”
Cowger has been with the Clovis Rodeo Association for roughly 20 years, serving as a board member, treasurer, equipment and ground supervisor, and a member of the event security team. He stated, “For me, the part of the rodeo that I look forward to every year is seeing all the guys and gals who show up and volunteer their time, and seeing the camaraderie of the folks.”
He included “Being able to get together with all the folks and share stories from the past year and enjoy the western lifestyle that we participate in for the week of the rodeo –– we just have a great time.”
He is also a member of the Elks Lodge, California Barbed Wire Collectors Association, Central Valley Prospectors Association, and the College Church of Christ in Fresno.
He will be leading the Clovis Rodeo parade on Saturday, April 27, and will be riding the Old Town Clovis Fire Engine. Additionally, Cowger will receive the traditional cowboy hat and belt buckle during a reception during the last week of April.
Cowger remarked about his love for the western way of life: “It’s a tradition that’s carried on. It’s a [tradition] for people who respect each other, respect each other’s property, respect the care and maintenance of their animals. It is a different group of folks, but it’s people who take a lot of pride in what they do and where they come from.”
The Clovis Rodeo will be running between April 25 and April 28. Tickets are available at clovisrodeo.com and at the Clovis Rodeo Ticket Office.