A part of rodeo history will be for sale in Abilene. When the annual buckle auction takes place for the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo, on August 2, four scrapbooks commemorating the rodeo, from 2005 through 2021 will be up for grabs.
Rodeo officials say the scrapbooks are the work of Abilene resident Beverly Willcoxon, who has included plenty of information in the books: programs from each year of the rodeo, newspaper clippings, photographs of the rodeo stars, and more.
The books are album-style three-ring note books with protective plastic sleeves that the paper memorabilia has been inserted in, so it can be removed to be viewed.
Each book has four years of history in it, except for the first book, which has three years (2005-2007).
The books are a continuation of a project Willcoxon completed in 2000, which included the scrapbook-style books, commemorating the rodeo’s history through 2000. Those books were sold at auction then.
She also has two pictures that will be for sale at the buckle auction. The framed pictures are collages of the people featured on the third and fourth buckle series for the rodeo. The people’s pictures are included, with the buckle with their likeness next to their picture. One collage consists of the people on the buckle from 2003-2009; the second collage has the people on the buckle from 2010-2016.
Willcoxon’s love of the Abilene rodeo started when she was living in town in the 1970s. As a single parent with four young children, two of her sons, John and Randy McDonald, would sneak into the rodeo to watch. John made friends with many of the rodeo performers and contestants. “He’s always been a personable person,” she said. “He would get acquainted with all the entertainers and the top rodeo people. They all knew him as that little red-headed kid who asked a lot of questions.”
John rode bulls in high school; Randy rode beyond his high school days. John’s son, Ethan McDonald, worked as a pro rodeo bullfighter for several years before retiring in 2018. Ethan was one of the bullfighters for the Abilene rodeo from 2014-2017. John was featured on the buckle in 2002.
Willcoxon has made different memorabilia items throughout the years, all donated to the auction, with proceeds going to benefit the rodeo. Her other two children are Tony McDonald and Natalie McDonald Lyons.
The buckle auction, which will also include other items for sale, takes place Monday, August 2 at the Shockey and Landes building in Abilene.
Social hour begins at 7 pm, with the auction to follow at 7:30 pm.
The 75th anniversary of the rodeo takes place August 4-7. Performances begin at 7:30 pm each night.