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Spotlight on Mike Torvinen - Reno Rodeo President - “100 Years is a Big, Damn Deal”

Jun 10, 2019 12:51PM ● By Kristy Mc Lean

Photo courtesy of Fred Cornelius

“One hundred years for any organization is significant. That’s why our motto for this year is ‘It’s a Big Damn Deal.’ We’re encouraging the whole community to come out and celebrate this huge milestone with us.” – Mike Torvinen, 2019 Reno Rodeo President

Mike Torvinen is a passionate, driven family man who lives and breathes Reno Rodeo. He’s a 2nd generation Reno native whose grandfather originally came to Reno to work as Treasurer for Sierra Pacific Power Company (now NV Energy). Mike was Deputy Director of Nevada Department of Health and Human Services when he retired after 30 years with the state. He and his wife, Patricia, raised their two daughters, Kristen and Katie, in Carson City and he’s been a volunteer with the Reno Rodeo for nearly 15 years. Mike grew up skiing in Lake Tahoe and always loved the outdoors but got a late start into the cowboy lifestyle. However, he gets a special twinkle in his eye when he talks about the first time his friend Ray Callahan took him out on the range as a buckaroo helping ranchers move cattle. “I had one of the best days of my life out there. Watching the partnership between the cowboy, his horse, and his dogs…realizing that the old ways are still the best ways…the peace, tranquility, and the sky is as blue as it ever gets.” Then, as if the nostalgia might get the better of him, he says matter-of-factly, “cows turn grass into steak and it’s fun to be a part of that process.” From then on, he was cowboy with a burning passion to keep the tradition alive.

Mike says he’s been to a lot of rodeos and there’s no better rodeo anywhere than the Reno Rodeo. He believes that the tradition, history, and all of the great people are what make it so special; both the volunteers and the fans. Hearing people say, “I love the Rodeo!” is music to his ears and he loves giving the people of Reno something fun to do. Mike believes that what makes the Reno Rodeo unique is the outdoor arena and how close you can get to the action. He adds that the Reno Rodeo parade as well as the flag team and their fearless leader, Shannon Bohatch, are second to none.

Mike Torvinen may be a volunteer but it’s clear that he takes his job very seriously. Mike’s commitment to the Reno Rodeo and the people of Nevada runs in his veins. It’s a long road to get to President of the Rodeo. You have to work as a “wrangler” or volunteer for 2 years, then be a member of the Reno Rodeo Association for 3 years before becoming eligible for the Board, followed by 3 years as a board member before you can hold office or be on an executive committee and then serve as 2nd VP and 1st VP before finally making it to President – 10 years minimum. Mike claims that it was a bit of luck and good timing that he ended up as President for the 100th year of the Reno Rodeo but perhaps there was some divine intervention there. Mike Torvinen is exactly where he is meant to be…making sure we realize that 100 years of Reno Rodeo is indeed a “Big, Damn Deal” and that we come out and have a hootin’ hollerin’ heck of a time at the 100th year celebration of the Reno Rodeo.

Reno Rodeo Quick Facts

Photo courtesy of Fred Cornelius

 • Reno Rodeo is in the top 10 largest added money rodeos in the United States and Canada (out of over 600) with more than $2 million in prize money up for grabs. 

• Reno Rodeo’s economic impact in Washoe County is over $57 million yearly, which equates to over 500 jobs annually (based upon a 2014 University of Nevada survey funded jointly by the Reno Sparks Convention and Visitor’s Authority and the Reno Rodeo Association).

• It takes over 1000 volunteers to produce the Reno Rodeo every year.

• 2019 will be the 29th anniversary of the Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive, which brings guests from all over the United States, and as far away as Switzerland.

 • It will also be the 34th anniversary of Reno Rodeo Drill Team Competition, which brings teams in from the western United States.

 • Over 200,000 guests are expected to attend the Reno Rodeo in 2019.

 • In addition the moneys given by the Reno Rodeo Foundation, the Reno Rodeo contributes more than $25,000 annually to a variety of charities and Junior Rodeos in support of their fund raising programs.

Reno Rodeo offers free shuttle service from UNR – shuttles run from 4:30pm to 12:30am during the 10 days of the Rodeo – look for updates and additional shuttle services on


Reno Rodeo Builds Up to its 100th Anniversary with Special Events

Join Bliss Life Magazine as we get down and dirty with the Rodeo this year – get in on the action with live coverage of the following events on

MISS RENO RODEO 2020 PAGEANT – June 11- 14

From Tuesday, June 11 to Friday, June 14, the loveliest cowgirls in the land will compete for top honors at the Miss Reno Rodeo 2020 Pageant. Contestants will do their best to impress the judges as they compete in several different categories including horsemanship, speech, etiquette, impromptu current events and personality, a written exam and overall rodeo spirit. Mingle with judges and contestants on Wednesday, June 12 at 5:30 p.m. at Napa Sonoma South Reno. The public is also invited to watch contestants’ equestrian technique and control as they maneuver their horses in varying patterns for a panel of judges during the horsemanship competition, taking place at 9:30 a.m. on June 13 at the Reno Rodeo Outdoor Arena. Miss Reno Rodeo 2020 will be crowned at a coronation dinner that’s open to the public, with a prepaid ticket purchase, on Friday, June 14 at 6 p.m. in the Peppermill Reno Tuscany Ballroom. Music and dancing will follow at 9 p.m.


Photo by Kevin Bell

 Buckaroos from across the country (including Bliss Life Executive Editor Kristy McLean!) will take part in an authentic western experience during the Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive, Saturday, June 15–Thursday, June 20. Participants drive more than 300 head of cattle across 100 miles of Nevada desert over five days. This classic cowboy journey includes songs ‘round the campfire, exquisite sunsets, picturesque high-desert landscapes and a bond between horse and rider. Catch the Cattle Drive Parade on June 20 at high noon as the adventure culminates with the 300 cattle being steered through Oddie Boulevard to McCarran, then down Sutro Street.


Get your dancing boots on for the Reno Rodeo and KBUL Kick-Off Concert, from 7 to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, June 19 at the Reno Rodeo Outdoor Arena. This year, the rodeo and KBUL 98.1 FM present country music’s hottest young star Chris Janson with special guest Tyler Farr. Janson found his own stardom with the release of the summer party anthem “Buy Me A Boat,” which peaked at No. 2 on the U.S. Country charts. His second No. 1 hit single, “Fix A Drink” came from his sophomore album “Everybody” and earned him a CMA-nominated song with “Drunk Girl.” Fellow Missouri native Tyler Farr will open for Janson. Farr began his career off the stage, penning hits for Cole Swindell and Joe Nichols before releasing his debut album “Redneck Crazy.” The album reached No. 2 on Billboard’s country album debut, yielding a pair of No. 1 hits in the title track and “Whiskey in My Water.” General Admission tickets for the Reno Rodeo Kickoff Concert are $50 in advance or $65 on show day and include open seating in the grandstands or standing in the arena. Reno Rodeo box-seat holders will be given the first right of refusal for their seats. Box seats are $65 in advance or $75 day of show. Tickets are available for $40 in advance and $50 day of show with a valid military ID, in person only. In addition to the concert, the carnival grounds, food court, Jack Daniel’s Tent and Coors Double R Bar will be open to the public, with no grounds fee on the night of the concert.


2019 Reno Rodeo Highlights – Don’t Miss These Crowd Favorites

CARNIVAL – June 19-29

While the bulls are bucking off cowboys in the stadium, the carnival rides will be waiting for you to spin, dip, drop and enjoy. The carnival will be open one night earlier this year starting Wednesday, June 19. Take a romantic ride around the Ferris Wheel or brave the stomach-dropping fun of the Zipper. Everyone can take advantage of the all-you–can-ride wristbands on sale daily for $30. With a variety of games and exhilarating rides, the carnival is open from 4 p.m. to midnight on weekdays and noon to midnight on weekends. Don’t miss the food stands with classic carnival fare like corn dogs, funnel cake and lemonade or all-American grub like mouthwatering barbeque, Texas Taters and the famous Kick-Ass fries – hand cut fries topped with pulled pork, cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions, all smothered in barbecue sauce.


Catch the specialty act, Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls, as they entertain the fans with a thrilling performance of trick riding and trick roping. Each night of the Reno Rodeo these girls will exemplify their Western lifestyle and extensive training, provided by the Riata Ranch Youth Horsemanship Clinics. These ladies will be wowing the audience as they perform incredible stunts on horseback.

WILD PONY RACES – June 21-24

A fast action, fun, and wild event, the Wild Pony Races are back, June 21-24. Four teams of three kids between the ages 8-14 years old will compete. During the race two kids have to rope and halter the pony and the third has to mount and ride. Teams are timed with the longest ride deemed the winner.


 Bullfighters Only (BFO) is a freestyle bullfighting competition series that features an international roster of elite professionals. No bulls are harmed in a freestyle bullfight, where the bullfighter goes one-on-one against a bull for 70 seconds, employing spectacular maneuvers like jumping over a charging bull. The bullfighter is judged on his willingness to expose himself to risk and on his aggressiveness. His objective is to stay as close as he can to the bull throughout the fight. Like the riders, the bullfighters score higher when the bull is more aggressive. Three bullfighters will compete Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as they go up against the meanest fighting bulls. The championship will take place Friday, June 28.

RENO RODEO PARADE – Saturday, June 22

The Rodeo Parade will be bigger and better than ever to celebrate the event’s 100th anniversary. The parade route will run south on Virginia St. starting at 14th St. near the University of Nevada down to Liberty Street. Spectators will see hundreds of horses, wagons, the Legendary Longhorns, Miss Reno Rodeo and more.

KIDS’ DAY – Sunday, June 23

Bring your little buckaroos to Kids’ Day Sunday, June 23. This is one of the best ways for those little cowboys and cowgirls to learn all about the western lifestyle, agriculture and more. Doors open at 9 a.m. with various animals, interactive vendors and live displays to keep the kids entertained! This event is free to the public. Kids’ Day also features the ever-popular Mutton Bustin’ Championship.


Thursday, June 20 - Wrangler Retro Night - Get in to the rodeo spirit and dress in your best classic western wear.

Friday, June 21 - Patriot Night – Wear red, white and blue and show your American pride.

Tuesday, June 25 - Man Up Crusade Night – Wear purple to bring awareness to the issue of domestic violence.

Wednesday, June 26 – Wolfpack Night - Back the Pack as you rep that silver and blue.

Friday, June 27 – Breast Cancer Awareness Night – Wear pink for breast cancer awareness.


SPECIAL THANKS TO THE RENO RODEO ASSOCIATION, THE RENO RODEO FOUNDATION, AND ALL OF THE VOLUNTEERS WHO MAKE THE RODEO POSSIBLE! The Reno Rodeo is a non-profit organization that is made possible through the generosity of its volunteers. Volunteers work tirelessly year round to make sure you enjoy your Reno Rodeo experience. Show your appreciation and thank your volunteers when you see them, treat them with respect, and consider volunteering yourself! 

And that’s not all! Visit to see all that’s store for the 100th Anniversary of the Reno Rodeo!






The Reno Rodeo has given us 100 memorable years of the sights, sounds, and smells of a wild and rich rodeo. How are we able to take some of that experience home to treasure all year round? The Double R Marketplace is the answer! With over 100 vendors, you are sure to find something special to commemorate your experience at the 100th year of the Reno Rodeo! The Double R Marketplace showcases vendors from across the country with products ranging from aging barrels for your whiskey to zebra print halters for your horse. Vendors are carefully selected to provide a well-rounded shopping experience where you will find unique items for your family, friends, and you!

Here’s a sneak peek at some of our favorite fashion vendors who will be setting up shop at the Double R:

Desert Sage Bead

Cowgirl’s favorite Desert Sage is returning to Double R Marketplace. Kathleen uses Premium Delica beads that are loomed, sewn onto metal bands, then covered in washable ultrasuede to create her intricate designs. Many Reno Rodeo members and wranglers enjoy wearing her jewelry as well as chatting with her. Stop on by to meet this amazing artist and check out her amazing handcrafted pieces of wearable art.

Sassy Leather Boutique

Family owned and operated, this Arizona-based boutique specializes in hand tooled leathers, smooth leathers and other fashion pieces that blend traditional western style with a casual spin. From wallets to purses to hats, there are dozens of options to explore at the Reno Rodeo this year.

Ace’s Arrow Boutique

Ace’s Arrow Boutique is your shopping source for one-of-a-kind clothing pieces that make a statement. The boutique is full of hand-picked, bold, high-quality pieces that captivate the Wild West spirit within.

My Forever Cowgirl

This traveling boutique features the latest Rodeo fashions and Western inspired staples that are handpicked and curated from well known brands such as Miss Me, 7 For All Mankind and many more.

Ritzy & Rustic Boutique

Ritzy & Rustic Boutique is Northern Nevada based and caters to every small town gal who loves vintage and boho fashion. Carrying styles that range from western to southern chic with a touch of modern, Ritzy & Rustic perfectly embodies the moniker “Nevada Femme.”