BEARD RODEO COMPANY, HOMEGROWN
Inducted in 2006
“The Ellensburg Rodeo could not have sustained its success without Frank Beard Rodeo Company stock,” states Ellensburg Rodeo Board member and past-President Steve Alder. “The Beards and the Ellensburg Rodeo have a personal connection: They are great, down-to-earth people.”
The Beard Rodeo Company, headquartered at Frank and Charlot Beard’s Naneum Road Ranch, carries on a proud tradition of premier rodeo stock contracting companies affiliated with the Ellensburg Rodeo. The Beard Rodeo Company ranks alongside legendary contractors Red and Rose Wall, Bernard-Moomaw, Christensen Brothers, and Harry Vold.
Frank Beard was born in a tent in an olive grove in Oroville, California in 1928. He grew up in his parents’ (Bill and Ruby) ranching and horse-trading family on the Yakama Indian Reservation, near Toppenish. Frank broke and trained horses from boyhood, and at age 16 began a rodeo career as a roughstock (bareback bronc and bull) rider.
In 1947, Frank went to work breaking horses for the VanBelle Family on their ranch near Sunnyside. John VanBelle was a horse dealer and livestock trucker who had just entered the rodeo stock contracting business. Beard began to ride their “try-out” bucking horses and worked for the VanBelles as a pickup man. Frank married their daughter Charlot on September 3, 1947. Thus the two will celebrate their 59th wedding anniversary this Ellensburg Rodeo Labor Day weekend. The Beards have five children—Casey, Tim, Kelly, Pat, and Shannon.
Charlot recalls the origins of today’s Beard Rodeo Company back when she and Frank “started putting together some bucking horses for Pat, our youngest son, to practice on, and for other members of the Sunnyside High School Rodeo Club to ride also.” Adding a few bulls, the Beards began to produce high school and junior rodeos. In 1973, they founded the Beard Rodeo Company and soon were producing small professional rodeos for the Washington Rodeo Association and Northwest Rodeo Association.
Meanwhile, the Beards moved to their present 160-acre Naneum Road ranch in 1977. “We were drawn by good land, natural beauty, wildlife, and Ellensburg’s important rodeo connections and location on major interstate highways,” Frank recalls. The Beards realized a lifelong dream by building their own log home, replete with their collection of Navajo blankets, antique tack and rigging, ranching and rodeo artifacts and memorabilia as well as western art. Their rodeo practice arena is directly behind their home.
In Ellensburg, Frank continued horseshoeing while building his rodeo stock contracting business. The Beards incrementally built up the number and quality of their herd, raising and bucking their own broncs and purchasing bulls; they worked an average twenty small rodeos a year. By 1987, Beard broncs and bulls were acquiring regional acclaim. The Beard Rodeo Company was ready for the “big time,” and joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. “Our journey in the PRCA,” Charlot reflects, “has brought us much pride in our ability to produce good rodeos.”
The same year the Beard Rodeo Company joined the PRCA they became a primary stock contractor for the Ellensburg Rodeo. “We were doing some smaller PRCA rodeos and it came our time [to join the Ellensburg Rodeo],” Frank remembers. “We gained confidence in ourselves and got lots of prestige from being here.” “It was a milestone for us,” states Frank’s son and National Finals Rodeo pickup man Pat Beard. “This is the brass ring.”
The Beard Rodeo Company is a family endeavor with daughter, sons, son-in-law, and grandchildren working in varied roles. The crisp clean look of Beard Rodeo Company hands comes from the washrooms of Charlot and Shannon Beard Stewart, who iron and starch hundreds of shirts each rodeo season. The Beards and Stewarts take their families in travel trailers to all of their contracted rodeos, and cook and feed their crew.
Beard Rodeo Company broncs and bulls appear at the greatest rodeos in the nation, including the PRCA Circuit Finals and seventeen consecutive appearances at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada. Famed Beard broncs are Wild Strawberry, Profit Taker, Back Door, Heckle, and No Savvy, and their bulls include the acclaimed Hemi Dip and Bacca.
The Beard Rodeo Company bucking bronc “Homegrown” is also inducted into ERHOF. Homegrown (aka “Copenhagen Homegrown”) was sired by Wagon Boss and raised on the Beard Rodeo Company’s Naneum Road Ranch. Fifteen years-old, he is a four-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier and has bucked at numerous Columbia River Circuit and Dodge National Circuit rodeos. Because of Homegrown’s great speed, rodeo pickup men are extremely wary of stepping out on the track with him. The Beards write, “Homegrown’s trademark in his colts are their flaxen manes and tails, their out-of-line bucking style and great speed.”
Although both are now 78 years old, Frank and Charlot remain active and involved in rodeo and ranching. Frank plans to keep rodeo contracting and gradually turn management of the Beard Rodeo Company over to family members. And, of course, they will continue to live on their ranch and raise horses.
Although they work rodeos across the American West, the Beards have a special relationship with the Ellensburg Rodeo. “Nearly everywhere I go,” Frank recalls, “I hear folks talking about the Indians coming off the hill and the good competition and the stock in the Ellensburg Rodeo. It is an honor for us to be part of the Ellensburg Rodeo.”