Nelson’s rodeo is best in the business

Nelson’s rodeo is best in the business

If anyone knows rodeos, then it’s “Nutty” Jerry Nelson and his Frontier Rodeo Company, whose list of awards includes being named the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Stock Contractor of the Year for nearly 10 consecutive years. If there is an award in rodeo, he’s likely won it.

Rodeo roots date back to the 16th century, when the Spanish conquistadors and Spanish-Mexican settlers introduced the propagation of horses and cattle in the Southwest. Skills of the range cowboy led to competitive contests that eventually resulted in standard events for rodeo. It’s fitting that two of the earliest rodeos on record were held in Texas in 1883 in Pecos. It’s also fitting that uber cowboy Nelson is bringing the sport back to Southeast Texas

Ford Arena will again host Nelson’s two-night Appreciation for Industry Bull Riding on Friday, July 21, and Saturday, July 22, at 7 p.m. Tickets ($10-$50) can be purchased at the Ford Park box office at 5115 Interstate 10 South in Beaumont or online at

“The Appreciation for Industry Pro Bull Riding has become a great tradition in Southeast Texas, and I’m proud that we’ve established this event as Ford Arena’s annual bull riding,” said Nelson. “It’s a great way to showcase the country’s best bull riders and the best livestock.”

Despite being an award-winning rodeo entrepreneur, Nelson was never really a “rodeo guy.” He grew up in the Pear Orchard, graduated from Beaumont’s South Park High School and credits a friendship with a future Texas Rodeo Hall of Famer for helping to introduce him to the sport while coaching a Little Dribbler’s basketball team.

“When I was coaching my son Bubba, who was around 5 years old at the time, I met another parent named Johnny Ackel,” said Nelson. “Ackel’s mother was married to Bruce Pipkin, of the famed Pipkin Ranch. At the time, Johnny was the largest amateur stock contractor in the country, so we would visit the ranch on the weekends and ride horses. That’s when I started to get interested.”

Decades later, Nelson and his Frontier Rodeo Company have become the best in the business. With more than 14,000 acres of land in Freedom, Oklahoma, Nelson and his hard-working staff produce the best livestock in the industry.

Nelson is not just a behind-the-scenes guy, either. You can spot him sitting atop the chutes where the bulls, horses, steers, and calves are held before each event. With a nickname like “Nutty,” you have to have some inner crazy.

“I’ll tell you what’s crazy are these 150-pound cowboys,” said Nelson. “We produce the meanest bulls on the planet and these cowboys are about to get on an 1,800-pound bull and try to ride him for eight seconds. I love to be close to the action.”

With recent rodeos in Elko, Nevada, the Cody Stampede in Wyoming, and Spanish Fork in Utah, Nelson still loves to bring the rodeo to Beaumont.

Nelson said it’s a great opportunity for everyone to come out, especially clients that he and his company Maverick International conduct daily business with.

“I love to invite my clients,” he said. “Anyone can take their client golfing or fishing, but none of my competitors can put their clients in the front row of a world class rodeo.”

The crowd-favorite mutton-bustin’ is also scheduled for both nights. For those who have never heard of such, small cowboys and cowgirls, usually aged 5 years and younger, attempt to clamber aboard a wild, wooly sheep and try to hang on for six seconds. Registration is available by calling (409) 782-2220 or in-person on the Ford Arena upper concourse at 6 p.m., before the rodeo.

“Most people that participate in the rodeo live in rural America,” said Nelson. “They start their kids off by riding sheep and will drive them all over the country. The next thing you know, they move up and become bull riders, barrel racers, steer wrestlers and ropers.”

And who says the bull riders get to have all the fun?

Fans can try their hand at bull riding on a mechanical bull, and the stars of the United Bull Riders will be signing autographs and taking photos inside the Family Fun Zone, where kids will be treated to circus performers, face painting and balloon animals. Entry to the Family Fun Zone is just $5.

Chad Cooper is the Entertainment Editor. Contact via email at