69 years in a row: Oldest only-rodeo site in NJ open for 2023 season
PILESGROVE — Did you know New Jersey has a rodeo?
It’s true. Cowtown Rodeo, which is said to be one of the oldest continuously-operating rodeos in the U.S., is located in Pilesgrove and it’s open for the 2023 season, its 69th consecutive year. Yee haw!
When did the rodeo begin?
Cowtown Rodeo was started in 1929 by Howard Harris Sr. and his son Howard “Stoney” Harris Jr., according to the website. They held the first rodeo in Woodstown, NJ in conjunction with the Salem County Fair. The rodeo was held annually during the county fair until 1938 when World War II put the rodeo on hold until 1955.
That’s when Stoney’s son, Howard “Baldy” Harris came back from the University of Idaho and the family worked together in establishing what is known as the “oldest weekly professional rodeo in the United States.”
The rodeo outgrew the original arena thanks to live national TV exposure and in 1967, the present 4,000-seat arena was built.
In 1978, Howard Grant Harris, fourth generation, and his wife, Betsy bought the Cowtown Rodeo. For years, they’ve been living on the home ranch and carrying on the tradition of Cowtown Rodeo.
Grant runs the daily operations while Betsy secretaries the rodeos. They have two daughters and five grandchildren, all of who help operate Cowtown Rodeo on a daily basis.
When is Cowtown Rodeo open?
Cowtown Rodeo, located at 780 Harding Highway, Pilesgrove is open every Saturday Night, Memorial weekend through the end of September.
Saturday rodeo gates open at 6 p.m. Rodeo starts at 7:30 p.m.
Professional Bull Riding weekends (PBR) are scheduled for July 29, 30, August 5, 6.
Saturday PBR gates open at 6 p.m. Rodeo starts at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday PBR gates open at 1 p.m. Rodeo starts at 2:30 p.m.
Xtreme Bull Riding event is August 14 and 15. Gates open at 6 p.m. Rodeo starts at 7:30 p.m.
The rodeo typically ends around 10 pm.
The rodeo operates rain, shine, and heat. There are no refunds or exchanges.
What kind of rodeo events are there?
Bull Riding: The most intense 8 seconds you will experience in rodeo!
Steer Wrestling: Bulldoggin’ excitement in the second event of the night!
Saddle Bronc Riding: Watch as our Pick-up Men come to the rescue!
Bareback Riding: The most physically demanding event for the cowboy!
The Down Roping: A nod to the days of the Old West rancher life!
Team Roping: Watch true teamwork in action!
Barrel Racing: Nothin’ beats pretty girls and fast horses!
All Around Cowboy: Highest money winner competing in 2+ events each rodeo night wins the weekly title.
How much are 2023 admission tickets?
Adults: $25 (age 13 and over)
Adults Season Tickets: $255. Season tickets can be purchased at the ticket booth on rodeo nights until the end of June.
Children: $10 (ages 3 - 12)
Infants: Free (age 0 - 2)
10% Military Discount: Offered only during regular rodeo Saturday nights. Valid Veteran or Active Duty ID required. First responders are offered a discount on 9/9/23.
PBR Weekends: All tickets cost $30 for general admission. Only ages 2 and under remain free.
Xtreme Bull Riding: All general admission pricing is $25. If you attend both XBR days, save with a two-day ticket bundle at $40.
Group rates are available at Cowtown Rodeo.
Parking is always free.
FYI: Food vendors accept CASH ONLY.
So, grab your 10-gallon hat, spurs, and buckskin jackets, and have an awesome time at New Jersey’s oldest and only rodeo site.