Real Nebraska Stories: Rodeo Nebraska

Rodeo Nebraska Photo Book Explores Nebraska’s Small-Town Rodeos

Rodeo Nebraska by Mark Harris is now available at Amazon Prime.


Eight years ago Mark Harris set out on a mission: to portray Nebraska’s contemporary rodeo culture more artistically and comprehensively in photographs than anyone ever has—and then write a book worthy of the photos. As a result, that book, Rodeo Nebraska, was the 2016 Cover/Design/Illustration award-winner for the Nebraska Center of the Book Awards. At eighty-two events in sixty-two separate locations Harris photographed the competition, the rural crowds, and all things connected with them. He visited ranches that breed broncs, bulls, and speed horses, and spoke to hundreds of competitors. National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore calls the book “a captivating tribute to rodeo like no other.” Harris, a native of McCook, Nebraska, is associate director of the University of Nebraska State Museum at Morrill Hall in Lincoln. His photography has been featured in NEBRASKAland and Nebraska Life magazines, and in the Nebraska History Museum’s Nebraska Cowboys exhibit. The large-format, hardcover book isn’t about big-time rodeo. In its 240 pages you won’t find national circuit events or rodeo stars. The people of Rodeo Nebraska work all week on ranches and farms and compete on weekends. For them, rodeo isn’t a way to make a living. It’s simply part of living. The photos are driven by questions. What brings people to the sport? What is it like to compete in rodeo? How do the winners get so good? Harris gives us action shots, to be sure—bone-crushing falls and majestic rides. But he also turns his camera on the people: the communities that host rodeos and those who participate.

Oakland Rodeo


Harris spent many hours talking with rodeo competitors, contractors, rodeo clowns, “bull fighters,” and others involved in the sport. Their stories provide the book’s lively narrative. “Mark Harris forces the reader to do something very unusual in a book of photography: read the words,” says Jeff Kurrus, editor of NEBRASKAland Magazine. “While his images are icing, his memories and observations are where Rodeo Nebraska’s most pleasing treasures lie.” If the book has an underlying message, it’s that rodeo is more than a sport. It is entertaining, but that is not its core purpose. As historian Candy Moulton explains in the book’s foreword, rodeo is a living tradition with deep roots in Nebraska. In words and pictures, Mark Harris does it justice. Rodeo Nebraska by Mark Harris, foreword by Candy Moulton. $34.95, hardcover, 12” x 9.5”, 240 pages. ISBN 978-0-933307-36-0. Available from the NSHS Landmark Stores, 402-471-2062 and, as well as various local booksellers. For a schedule of upcoming Nebraska rodeos and more information about the book, visit

Fort Robinson State Park Rodeo


What Readers Say

“After eighty-two events in sixty-two separate Nebraska locations, Mark Harris has created a captivating tribute to rodeo like no other.” —Joel Sartore, National Geographic photographer “Mark Harris’s rodeo photographs are simply stunning, particularly because they reveal aspects of this remarkably popular phenomenon that a casual observer never sees, and certainly doesn’t understand. The pictures are art, for sure, but they are more than art in the sense that they clearly show us how involved are entire families. We understand, of course, that modern rodeo is quintessentially western American. Not only are Mark’s photographs truly beautiful, technical masterpieces, but they also reveal everything from the violence to family engagement associated with that beauty. This book is truly collectible!” –John Janovy Jr., Paula and D. B. Varner Distinguished Professor in Biological Sciences, Emeritus, University of Nebraska at Lincoln; author, Keith County Journal “Mark Harris forces the reader to do something very unusual in a book of photography: read the words. While his images are icing, his memories and observations are where Rodeo Nebraska’s most pleasing treasures lie.” —Jeff Kurrus, author and editor of NEBRASKAland Magazine

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

Buffalo Bill’s Big House

Buffalo Bill’s Big House

Marker Monday: The Seedling Mile

Marker Monday: The Seedling Mile

Vacationing on a Budget in 1909

Vacationing on a Budget in 1909

About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.