Rodeo History and Traditions

The Cow Palace was completed in 1941.

The new arena boasted a concrete and steel roof that covered nearly six acres. The first event to be held in the new arena was the Western Classic Holstein Show in April, 1941. In November of that year, the first Grand National Livestock Expo, Horse Show and Rodeo was held, featuring a tribute to the late Will Rogers. The show was declared a smash hit.

Two short weeks after the close of the first show, Pearl Harbor was attacked.

Rented by the Federal Government for $1.00 per year, for the next five years the huge structure was filled with troops embarking for combat zones in the Pacific Theatre. As World War II progressed, the pavilion was turned over to the Ordinance Department and converted into a huge repair garage.

Following the war in 1946, the facility was again readied to host the Grand National Livestock Expo, Horse Show and Rodeo.

The show was again a success, despite rain and wind storms that flattened the enormous outdoor livestock tents. This near disaster led to the construction of the permanent storm-proof pavilions that had been in the original plans.

In the spring of 1946

The Junior Grand National was established to encourage the youth of California in their livestock projects.

In the late 50’s

Flying U Rodeo founded by the late great Cotton Rosser began its service to the Grand Nation Rodeo by providing livestock and then production and arena management. Flying U Rodeo continues to produce the rodeo after a decades long relationship with the Cow Palace.

Over seven decades

The Grand Nation Rodeo and Stock Show held a variety of horse competitions, livestock competitions and sales. The arena has seen the Wells Fargo wagon, the Budweiser Clydesdales, the Canadian Mounted Police, and the American Arabian Horse Association, to name a few.