The Silver Spurs Rodeo is the largest rodeo east of the Mississippi and is annually ranked among the top 50 events sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). It wasn’t always that way for the event that originated from a humble gathering of Osceola County ranchers. In 1941, those pioneering ranchers gathered in Tallahassee to ride in the inaugural parade for newly elected Florida Governor Spessard Holland. Their appearance gained statewide attention and sparked the notion that they should continue to gather and enjoy their common interest of horseback riding.
In May of 1941, the Silver Spurs Riding Club was formed. The club was very active and quickly grew in popularity across the state. By the end of their first year, they had hosted a small informal rodeo, performed a square dance on horseback known as the Quadrille in Moultrie, Georgia, participated in the state Kiwanis Convention in Orlando, and performed in the Orange Bowl Parade in Miami. In 1942 they performed shows for the benefit of Crippled Children, the American Red Cross and the Army-Navy Relief Show. In 1943, the club members built their first rodeo arena on land donated by Henry O. Partin. That land was located on the corner of today’s Neptune Road and Kings Highway in St. Cloud.
In March of 1944, the group staged a show as their contribution to the Fourth War Loan. The admission to the rodeo was the purchase of a war bond. This was the first rodeo held in the Partin pasture and drew about 1,000 people. That initial success led to the first full dress rodeo on July 4, 1944. Then in 1949, the club acquired 15 acres on Highway 192 and started work on the Silver Spurs Rodeo Arena. The first rodeo in this new location was held July 4, 1950 and, in February of 1951, the club held its first mid-winter rodeo. From that point to today, the Silver Spurs Rodeo has been thrilling the residents of Central Florida and thousands of visitors each year.
In 1999, the Silver Spurs Rodeo approved to tear down the old arena and build a brand new state-of-the-art indoor facility. In March of 2002, demolition began on the historic arena and construction was soon started on the new multi-purpose Silver Spurs Arena. Scheduled to open in October 2003 as part of the $84 million dollar Osceola Heritage Park, the new Silver Spurs Arena boasts 8,300 seats and 12 luxury skyboxes in an indoor climate controlled environment designed to host rodeos, sporting events, concerts, and more.
Presently the Silver Spurs Riding Club has 361 members. Of them, 45 are club founders and many are still performing important roles in the club and the community. Although the rodeo has grown into a large business as one of Osceola County’s premier events, the work continues to be done by club members, their families and volunteers. Thanks to the Silver Spurs Riding Club, an uncompromising love of animals, land, and the outdoors preserves an American tradition that has been passed down for generations.