The Bill Hargreaves Fishing Rodeo started in 1971 with 18 anglers on Mother’s Day. Bill Hargreaves started the rodeo as part of a Kiwanis program whose goal was to fight the war on drugs in this country. Bill was then in charge of children’s activities with the Kiwanis and thought that a fishing rodeo would be a good family event. The entry fee for the rodeo was 25 cents and in its first year made only $12.50. From these very humble beginnings, the Hargreaves Rodeo was on its way.
Hargreaves believed that involving both parents and children in a family fishing event was the way to help combat drugs, promote the sport of family fishing and strengthen the family unit as a whole. “I thought if I could get to them before they got involved in that stuff, that would be the thing to do”, said Hargreaves.
The rodeo event was changed to Father’s Day weekend due to the suggestion of many mothers who were without husbands and children on Mother’s Day weekend. Plans now start in early January to get this event off the ground and it takes less than a dozen volunteers working hundreds of hours to set the wheels in motion. The Hargreaves Fishing Rodeo has grown into a four-day event, starting with Thursday’s Registration and Captain’s Meeting and ending with the Awards Ceremony and Fish Fry on Father’s Day Sunday.
Now sponsored by numerous community leaders and businesses, the tournament hands out cash prizes for 12 different categories of fish in the Open Division, totaling over $7,200. There are 32 fish categories in the Junior Division awarding $50 cash in each….something unique for Pensacola. The Hargreaves Rodeo awards the most prizes to junior anglers of any rodeo in town. The underlying theme of the rodeo is the children. Bill’s biggest thrill in the fishing rodeo that bears his name, was watching “his kids” having a great time. “ I feel good about it,” stated Hargreaves. We at Grand Lagoon Yacht Club feel good about it too.
Registration tickets are $40.00 for anglers 13 years and older, which includes tax and a Fish Fry ticket. Anglers 12 and under fish free; and are encouraged to pre-register, which will assist in speeding up the compilations for the Awards Ceremony on Sunday.