Every year since 1990, the family of famed early-day rodeo great Tad Barnes Lucas has bestowed the Tad Lucas Memorial Award upon one female rodeo standout. Known for exhibiting a fearless attitude in the rodeo arena, Lucas was an All-Around contestant for four decades, competing in trick riding, bronc riding, and relay racing. Considered the “First Lady of Rodeo,” Lucas’ globe-trotting career resulted in national and international championships for eight consecutive years.
Above all, Lucas was known for being a fierce, yet fair, competitor who was a professional both inside and outside the arena. Though she lived boldly and took risks, she had an extraordinary talent backing her, and never lost her incomparable sense of humor.
According to Mitzi Lucas Riley – daughter of Tad Lucas and herself a Rodeo Hall of Fame Inductee (1995) due to a trick-riding career that began in her youth – the Tad Lucas Memorial Award was established the year of Lucas’ death (1990) as a way for the Lucas family to “do something we thought she would like.” Through an endowment Lucas left to the National Cowboy Museum (a place, Riley said, “meant so much to her”) and the Rodeo Historical Society (RHS) (which “she helped put together,” Riley said), the Tad Lucas Memorial Award recognizes an outstanding Western woman who is a champion in her field of work and demonstrates the same creative spirit, zeal, and Western values Lucas exhibited throughout her life.
As Riley noted, the Lucas family is very particular about those it chooses to receive the award. “We get the cream of the crop,” she said. “We’ve had competitors, we’ve had journalists, we’ve had photographers, we had a saddlemaker, it’s been very diverse. They’ve all had that same love of rodeo, their sport, and want to promote it.”
For 2017, the Lucas family chose an honoree who epitomizes the values and lifestyle of Lucas, and who fits naturally among the long list of exceptional women who have received the award in years past: Karin Allred Rosser.
Karin Allred was born in Pasadena, California, to Bob and Sidona Allred. Early on, Rosser’s father – who bred and raised racehorses – instilled in his eldest daughter a love of horses, livestock, and the outdoors. As a toddler, the young girl rode Shetland ponies. As she grew, she was introduced to the Pony of the Americas (POA) and then Quarter Horses. Rosser excelled in Western and English Riding competitions, and in 1973, as a Utah Junior Quarter Horse Association charter member, she was elected the group’s first president. She was a member of the first team from Utah to compete at the American Junior Quarter Horse Show in Amarillo, Texas. She also competed as a barrel racer and queen contestant in amateur rodeos, and in 1974 was crowned Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo Queen, Miss Rodeo Utah, and runner-up to Miss Rodeo America.
With the Miss Rodeo America scholarship money Rosser earned, she attended Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, where she earned a degree in fashion merchandising.
During her reign as Miss Rodeo Utah, Rosser traveled to rodeos throughout the state. At one rodeo she met the “King of the Cowboys,” Flying U Rodeo stock contractor and 2009 Rodeo Hall of Fame Inductee Cotton Rosser. The two married in 1978, and immediately Karin took on a pivotal role managing not only Cotton’s Cowboy Corral, Rosser’s retail Western store in Marysville, California, but also the world of comprehensive rodeo production. She quickly received her Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) timer card and PRCA secretary card, and for nearly 40 years has been secretary or timer at rodeos small and large throughout California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.
As an integral part of the Flying U Rodeo production team for the past 40 years, Rosser is not only confined to the rodeo office, but also has mastered music and spotlight production, oversees building crews, hosts rodeo committees, assists with wardrobe and flag presentations, washes and saddles horses, feeds livestock, and accomplishes any other tasks that might need done. She then helps move the entire operation down the road, all to be done again at the next rodeo. And she does this all – while also caring for her husband and family – with grace, class, and charm.
If this seems like a lot for any wife and mother, consider that Rosser also makes time to help in her community. She is involved in local Chamber of Commerce and community projects and is active in her church. She is a member of H.A.N.D.S., an elite women’s service group offering moral and financial support to individuals involved in rodeo past and present, as well as the Cowboy Reunion group. She and Cotton support FFA, 4-H, and high school rodeo clubs, and host schoolchildren on tours of the family ranch.
All of this makes clear why Sano Blocker, Tad Lucas’ granddaughter, said, “Tonight’s honoree would surely make my grandmother proud. Like Tad, she is always looking for new frontiers to conquer. … We could think of no one more deserving to keep Tad’s legacy and love of rodeo alive. On behalf of our mother, Mitzi, Kelly Riley, and myself, we are all honored to present the 2017 Tad Lucas Award to Karin Rosser.”
When receiving the Tad Lucas Memorial Award, Rosser said “I am humbled and honored to accept the Tad Lucas Award, and to join the long list of past recipients who I have admired and respected. A very special thank you to Mitzi Riley and her family for honoring women of rodeo and the Western lifestyle. I cannot express how grateful I am to my family and friends for their unending support and love. … When you love what you have, you have everything you need. I salute this year’s honorees, each of whom have made incredible contributions to rodeo and our Western way of life.
“Museums like the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum are the windows of our past. We must help them do all they can to honor and preserve the legends of the West for our future generations. Thank you all very much.”