The first Affiliated Mareeba Rodeo was held in July 1949. A Committee was formed by members of the R.S.S.A.I.L.A and the Q.A.T.B. to raise funds for both groups. First President was Alan Butler (R.S.L) and first Secretary was Norm Parker (Ambulance).
A lot of sweat was lost by the pioneers of the Mareeba Rodeo to provide facilities such as stock yards, chutes, temporary announcers stand, some seating and part of an arena fence for the first Rodeo.
The initial Secretary's office was a large marquee and the balance of the arena fence was made up of early model motor cars (tourers) being parked side by side in a semi-circle.
The grounds, being the "new" showgrounds, later to be known as Davies Park, were under the control of the local Council who provided toilet facilities, water supply, some materials for yards and seating and shifted the old grandstand from the first showground.
In 1955 Mareeba held it's first Australian Championships, sideshows and rides became a part of the entertainment thanks to the efforts of the legendary Jimmy Sharman.
In 1959 the popular Mareeba Rodeo Queen Competition commenced with Miss Noela Connolly crowned as the first Rodeo Queen, with Mrs Willie Nieuwenhius Matron of Honour.
In the intervening period from 1949 to 1975 many improvements were made by the Committee including provision of a Secretary's Office, Committee Stand, Ambulance Station, Announcers Stand and the extension of yards, seating, arena fences and electricity supply for sideshows. The Shire Council also provided arena lighting.
In 1967 Mareeba participated in an Australia wide series of Rodeos which went towards a "World Championships" for this country. Jim Wallace was the instigator of the event and attended meetings as far down as Victoria.
In 1966 The Association acquired it's stock holding property "Kimalo". On 16th November 1970 the Committee made a momentous decision "to shift the Rodeo" to the Old Aerodrome Reserve, renamed "Kerribee (Wild Horse) Park". Work commenced fairly soon and Mr Bill Edmonds, with his D8 bulldozer cleared 12 hectares (40 acres) of land. Mr Ron Reddicliffe and his men excavated the new arena and brought in top dressing at a reduced cost. Many people helped with final levelling of the arena and with the construction of the arena fence.
The building of the new stockyards was a massive task. Keen rivalry between the Pensioner Gang and the Juvenile Gang set a fair pace and all the work done on the yards and chutes had been accomplished after the 1975 Rodeo.
The Juvenile Gang cut and carted rails, set out the yards and stood most of the railway line fence posts. A huge number of steel lugs were welded to the posts by a separate welding Gang using a tractor pack welder.
The Pensioner Gang also stood some steel posts, all of the wooden posts and secured all the rails to the posts, without the benefit of electricity. The building of about one hundred timber yard and chute gates was carried out by Stan Harries then aged 78 years.
At 5.15pm on Sunday 21st August 1977 water reached Kerribee Park through 2½ kilometres (1½ miles) of 100mm (4") fibro pipe that had been laid from the irrigation channel on Carman Road by Committee Members.
In 1978 the Committee decided to approach the National Bank for a large loan, which was granted, so that the first Rodeo could be staged in 1979. From January to July 1979 the tremendous effort by the Committee members and supporters, service clubs, two rugby league football clubs, employees of the electrical authority and many other private citizens witnessed an upsurge in activity.
High rise seating, electricity installation for side show alley, electricity reticulation to buildings, installation of arena lighting, construction of four toilet blocks, sewage disposal by a pump station and 2 Kilometres (1¼ miles) of piping to the town sewer system, water reticulation around the grounds, outer security fence and the relocation of some of the buildings from Davies Park were completed, with some trenches still being filled in on the Friday of the Rodeo. Some temporary facilities also had to be provided. With the exception of the sewage disposal system, masonry blocklaying and toilet block plumbing, all the work was carried out by voluntary labour.
The honour of the Official Opening was carried out by a very proud Stan Harries, long time Life Member, Gate Builder and Trustee of the Association, to the cries around the arena of "WE MADE IT".
In 1984 the second Australian Championships were conducted at Mareeba and a large contingent of A.B.C.R.A. Officials and supporters came from N.S.W. in buses to help us honour the occasion.
From 1979 to 1999 a lot of new building have been erected including the Bronc and Bull Bars, rodeo workers dining area, tool sheds, Souvenir and Soft drink stalls, caretakers residence and extensions made to toilet blocks, seating, yards and electricity distribution system, thus making "Kerribee Park" into a very high standard Rodeo complex.
With the 1999 Mareeba Rodeo we will reach a double milestone in our history, 50 years Golden Jubilee of the foundation of our Association and 20 years of the opening of "Kerribee Park".
Officials And Life Members Since 1949
Click here for details of officials and life members of the Mareeba District Rodeo Association Inc since 1949.
1949: The first Mareeba Rodeo was held in July, affiliated with the Australian Rough Riders Association (ARRA). First President Alan Butler.
1950: The first Rodeo Procession was held.
1955: Mareeba holds the ARRA Australian Championships and Sideshow Alley is added to the entertainment for the Rodeo.
1959: The commencement of the Mareeba Rodeo Festival Queen Competition with Noela Connelly being crowned as the first Rodeo Queen.
1966: The Association acquired its stock holding property 'Kimalo'.
1967: Mareeba is part of the World Rodeo Championship Series. The first Woodchops are held, as a feature on the Saturday night of the rodeo. Mareeba Rodeo Festival Week is introduced, replacing the defunct Mareeba Tobacco Festival, events include Window & Foyer Displays, Front Garden & Footpath Competition, Mardi Gras and Pole Sitting.
1968: The Mareeba Rodeo changes affiliation to the Australian Bushmen's Carnival Association (ABCA).
1970: The Committee decides to shift the rodeo to the old Aerodrome Reserve, renamed 'Kerribee Park' and clearing work commences.
1972: ABCA Australian Championship Rodeo.
1979: The first Rodeo is held at Kerribee Park on 14-15 July.
1981: Boxing is held in the main arena as the Saturday Night entertainment for 1981-1982.
1983: Mareeba holds its first Rodeo Clown Competition. The competition is judged on a freestyle and protection component. The freestyle section ceased with the 2002 rodeo and the competition continues now and is judged on protection ability only. The Saturday Night Invitation Bull Ride is incorporated into the program and is a huge success, continuing until 2004.
1984: ABCA Australian Championships Rodeo. Jim Blakeney is elected President. He is still holds that position making him the longest serving President of the association.
1985: The ABCA changes format and is now known as the Australian Bushmen's Campdraft and Rodeo Association (ABCRA).
1995: ABCRA Australian Championships Rodeo.
1999: Golden Jubilee celebration of 50 years of the Mareeba Rodeo. The first Stud Beef Cattle Show held in conjunction with the rodeo.
2002: Two new events are added to the entertainment, the Interstate Teams Rodeo Challenge and Ute Muster. Both are very popular, especially the Rodeo Challenge with its fast format and the excitement of a team competition.
2003: Queensland Rail hold their Silver Spike Competition at the Rodeo.
2004: The property 'Kimalo' is sold and it is now a commercial feedlot.
2007: ABCRA Australian Championship Rodeo.
2007: Commencement of a traditional Agricultural Show at the Mareeba Rodeo. 177 Classes in Categories for Photography, Needlework, Craft, Woodwork, Home Economics, Horticulture, Sugar Cane, Wine and Education.
2007: An amenities block is built in the competitors camping area at a total cost of $140,042. The Queensland Government provided $82,697 for its construction to get more Queenslanders active through sport and recreation.
2013: Winner of the ABCRA Rodeo Committee of the Year for 2012.
2015: New Grandstand built as a prototype. Committee plans on upgrading existing stands with new stands.
2016: Jim Blakeney retires as President after 32 years and is inducted into the Hall of Fame. A grant from Sports & Recreation for replacement of the existing stands, lights and sound system. To be completed by 2018. Ute Muster has been started again after a hiatus of 4 years.