The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo returned to metro Atlanta this weekend and welcomed sell-out crowds as the event celebrated and honored Black cowboys and cowgirls and their contributions to building the West.

The rodeo was held at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers and featured such traditional events as bull riding, calf roping, bull dogging, bronc riding and barrel racing.

The rodeo’s historic namesake, Bill Pickett, was born in 1870 and left the fifth grade to become a ranch hand. He went on to be a respected cowboy and traveled the world as a rodeo performer and actor. He’s credited with inventing the technique of wrestling steer to the ground in the fastest amount of time, which was then called bull dogging. In 1905, Pickett, performing under the name of the Dusky Demon, joined the 101 Ranch Wild West Show with such other famous cowboys as Tom Mix and Will Rogers.

“Bill Pickett taught them the rope tricks and a lot of things like that,” according to William Loren Katz, author of “The Black West: A Documentary and Pictorial History of the African American Role in the Westward Expansion of the United States.” “He was one of the greatest cowboys that ever lived.”