LIVERMORE -- Buckin' broncos, mutton busters and visits from the world's top professional bull riders highlight the 96th Annual Livermore Rodeo, stampeding into Robertson Park on Saturday and Sunday.
More than 12,000 people are expected to attend each day's lineup of professional events, including bull riding, bareback and bronco riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping and barrel racing.
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event is a partnership of the Livermore Stockmen's Rodeo Association and the Livermore Rodeo Foundation.
"It's all about keeping the history and heritage of the western lifestyle in this community," said Foundation President Kathleen Minser.
The "World's Fastest Rodeo" -- so named for its 13 chutes of quick-paced action -- carries special significance this year in the form of the Lane Frost Memorial Bull Ride, honoring the legendary rider who died from injuries sustained at a 1989 rodeo in Wyoming.
During a ceremony Sunday, Frost's parents will present the top overall bull rider with a custom-made silver commemorative belt buckle, depicting Frost atop "Red Rock," a bull he rode in Livermore a year before his passing.
"It's been 25 years since he died," said Dave Fagundes, a Livermore Rodeo spokesman and director. "It's a special deal we're having for him."
The rest of the 2014 Rodeo blends traditional elements with a few new wrinkles. On Thursday, the inaugural Cowgirl Luncheon, recognizing local scholarship winners and a cowgirl honoree, begins at 11 a.m. That evening, Family Night promises low-cost entertainment -- a $1 admission price coupled with $1 hot dogs and sodas. Locals will show off their skills in riding and roping, mutton busting and wild cow milking events.
The always popular Livermore Rodeo Parade runs down Second Street on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. It boasts 88 entries this year, including floats, stagecoaches, elected officials, and -- new for 2014 -- rodeo princesses. Also a first is the "Buckin' A Saloon," an after-party with a live band kicking off immediately after the rodeo competition. The cost is $10 in advance or $15 at the door.
On Sunday morning, 40 children with special needs will participate in the 18th Annual Lil' Pardners Rodeo. Beginning at 10 a.m., the youth will engage in stick pony barrel racing, roping with plastic steers and rides on a hand-rocked bull.
In addition to crowning the champions, the rodeo's final day is "Patriot's Day," with spectators encouraged to wear red, white and blue.
"The weather looks like it will be in the mid-80s so we're looking at a great event," Fagundes said. "It really is a good time, especially if you've never been."
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/jet_bang.
The 96th Annual Livermore Rodeo rides into town Saturday and Sunday at Robertson Park, 3200 Robertson Park Road. Gates open at 11 a.m. and Grand Entry begins at 3 p.m. on both days. Individual rodeo tickets are $15-$25 and available at Baughman's Western Outfitters on First Street, at the rodeo grounds or online at livermorerodeo.org. Family Night is Thursday, starting at 4:30 p.m., and will feature events such as local team roping and wild cow milking. Admission is $1. The 2014 Livermore Rodeo Parade is Saturday on Second Street in downtown Livermore beginning at 10 a.m.