The History of Pawnee Bills Wild West Show


Every weekend, the Stockyards Championship Rodeo puts on a historical reenactment of the original Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show. It features trick roping, trick shooting, trick riding, cowboy songs and an entertaining look at history. Everything is based on actual events and stunts that occurred back in the day.

In the late 1800’s, a man named William Frederick Cody founded Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. It quickly became the most acclaimed entertainment show of its time. The group performed for royalty, heads of state and other influential members throughout England. The most notable of the group was sharpshooter, Phoebe Ann Moses, better known as Annie Oakley!


A few years later, a man named Gordon William Lillie (or Pawnee Bill as we know him) was given the opportunity to work with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. He was hired as both an interpreter and performer. Lillie met his future wife, May Manning, while working for William. After they married, they decided to start their own show called “Pawnee Bill’s Historic Wild West” in 1888.

The first year was a disaster, and due to financial constraints they created a much smaller show called “Pawnee Bill’s Historic Wild West Indian Museum and Encampment Show.” This smaller show was a success and was held in our very own Cowtown Coliseum in 1909!

Now, over a hundred years later, you have an opportunity to see what it was like! Bring the whole family and take a trip back to the Wild West. Shows occur every Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 and 4:30 p.m.Get your tickets here!