The Arcadia rodeo began back in the middle of 1928 when the American Legion wanted to raise money to help pay for a new building. A local businessman, who was a member of the American Legion, asked a prominent rancher (Zeb Parker) if a rodeo could be held to raise money. Mr. Parker agreed it could be done and offered to furnish the stock for free.
In preparation for this event, special arrangements were made to bring in a group of Seminole Indians. The American Legion and the Lion’s Club volunteered to sponsor a parade. Two thousand Shriners were expected to march in the parade. The Governor of Florida, Doyle E. Carlton, notified officials he would be attending the rodeo and the Wauchula band provided the music. The first rodeo was such a success that the American Legion was able to pay off the mortgage on the new building in four years .
During the early thirties (even though the local economy was devastated by the national depression) the rodeo continued as people struggled to simply earn enough to afford the necessities of life. During these years the rodeos were held in the Limestone Community of Desoto County, where the interest in rodeo was kept alive.
In 1938 at the urgings of his son (Billy Welles) and a friend (Gerald Taylor- a local rancher and businessman), Ed Welles agreed to promote and finance the rodeo. The Arcadia rodeo became an annual event at the Welles’ arena until the sudden death of Ed Welles on June 11,1950. However, the tradition of rodeo was so firmly entrenched in the hearts of so many Desoto Countians that on January 10, 1952, at a meeting of the Rotary Club, what would become the Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo, Inc. as we know it today was reactivated.
The rodeo continued at the Welles’ arena until 1959 when the arena was moved to its present location. In 1973 the Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo, Inc. joined the ranks of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).
The Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo, Inc. has evolved from its pioneer beginnings (when competing cowboys and ranchers matched their skills for the entertainment of local audiences) to a national sport drawing top cowboy athletes from all over the nation. Cowboys who compete for purses and points are aiming for the “Super Bowl” of rodeo: the National Finals held annually in Las Vegas.
The Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo is a non-profit organization that was established in 1952 by the Arcadia Rodeo Association, which evolved from a group of American Legion Members who held the first rodeo in 1929. It is the oldest rodeo organization in the state of Florida, and benefits all of Arcadia and DeSoto County.
The Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo Association is made up of members of the local community. These members volunteer their time and energy to make each of the events enjoyable for all. We want to say thank you to each of these members for their devotion to the Association and the community as a whole.
Married with 2 children; 12th Judicial Circuit Court Judge; J.D. from the University of Miami. Past president of BPOE; member of Habitat for Humanity, Chamber of Commerce, Peace River Masonic Lodge #66.
Married with 2 daughters and 5 grandchildren; Circuit Judge for the 12th Judicial Circuit; Graduate of DeSoto County High School, J.D. from the University of Florida; Member of BPOE, Peace River Masonic Lodge #66, the National Metropolitan Court Conference.
Married with 6 children and 11 grandchildren. Works as a DeSoto County Commissioner. Retired from the Coast Guard as a Chief Warrant Officer after 22 years. Graduated from DeSoto County High School.
Married with 2 children; owner of Fussell’s Frozen Food; president of DeSoto Cattlemen’s Association; Chairman of the Youth Rodeo Committee; Graduate of DeSoto County High School.
Married with 3 children and 2 grandchildren; Citrus Owner and Real Estate Broker; Graduate of Hardee High School; Member of the Republican Party, Peace River Moose Lodge #66, BPOE.
The Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo is held annually in Arcadia, located in DeSoto County. First held in 1928, it is Florida’s longest running and largest rodeo event. The community is contemplating the future of the Rodeo. Part of this process is to determine the “economic impact” the Rodeo has upon the DeSoto County economy.
Economic impact is the influence an event, government action, or business activity has upon the local economy. Economic impact is calculated by measuring the flow of money in an economy through various steps of spending among different industries.
In order to estimate the economic impact of the Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo upon the DeSoto County economy, several steps are taken:
Approximately 17,700 people attended the Rodeo during the three days from March 7 to 9, 2014. Of these, approximately 15,700 (94%) were from out-of-town. Consequently the money they spent is “new money” to the county and determines the impact upon the economy.
In total, out-of-town attendees spent approximately $779,000 during the three day period of which about $664,000 entered the DeSoto County economy. As a result, after this money circulated (multiplied) throughout the economy, it can be estimated that approximately $1,084,000 in transactions (impact) occurred in DeSoto County as a result of the Rodeo.
The Direct is the initial impact of the spending. We began with $664,630. The Indirect Effect is the first stage of subsequent purchases necessary to provide the goods or services for the Direct Effect. The Induced Effect is the final stage. It represents the ripple effect, of money traveling through the economy. It might take between six to twelve months for the Induced Effect to completely occur. The Total Effect is the sum of all Effects and represents the amount of transactions or sales caused in DeSoto County as a result of the Rodeo.
The Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo provides over $60,000 in donations including two $2,000 scholarships to local graduating seniors. We are proud to be the largest fundraiser each year for the Desoto Band Boosters and Boy Scouts Troop 39. The AAFCR does not only give monetary contributions to the DeSoto 4-H and FFA but provide an opportunity for students to learn about Florida agriculture, ranching and cowboy heritage.
In 2008, the AAFCR created the Arcadia Youth Rodeo Association (AYRA). The AYRA allows local youth, ages 4 to 18, to compete for points and prizes. Participants must keep at least a C grade average and log 20 volunteer hours in order to compete. The AYRA has grown to be the second largest youth rodeo organization in the state of Florida.