Arizona Black Rodeo comes to Chandler

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

There's bull riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling -- all the hallmarks of a good rodeo. But an event today in the east Valley features something else -- a celebration of black history in the Wild West. 

Saturday was the Arizona Black Rodeo at Rawhide in Chandler.

Organizers say it's become one of the largest African-American-focused events in Arizona with thousands of fans turning out each year.

Besides the competition, organizers say the event is about preserving the heritage of black cowboys, a history that dates back to freed slaves in the Wild West era.

They say African-Americans have long taken part in rodeos, but for decades they were forced to go underground.

"Not until what, about 1970, African-Americans couldn't compete in the regular rodeo circuit. So, a lot of guys who were really good didn't have an opportunity to do so. So, they had what they call a bunch of chitlin tour circuits out there, and there were guys that would go to different cities down south and compete against each other."

This was the 7th year of the Arizona Black Rodeo.

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