lu vason

*Denver, Colorado – Friends and family are mourning the loss of Lu Vason, president and producer of the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo and creator of numerous unique national and local entertainment events.

Mr. Vason passed away on Sunday in Denver, Colorado after an illness. He was 76.

Vason is credited with uncovering the cultural past of the Black cowboy and creating the all Black rodeo named after legendary Black Cowboy–Bill Pickett who originated “bulldogging.”

“Lu leaves an indelible mark on Denver’s cultural scene and western heritage that will never be forgotten,” says Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock.

The popular invitational rodeo series reaches over 130,000 spectators annually across the United States. With a career spanning over four decades, Lu Vason has showcased national and international talent and his extensive credits include creating the Pointer Sisters, the American Heritage Rodeo of Champions and the Denver Jazz Festival.

Through his independent production and promotion company, Lu Vason Presents, Inc, Vason was well known in the arts and multicultural communities.

He was also a master at nurturing diverse communities by creating unique entertainment events like bringing the Dance Theatre of Harlem to Denver and introducing Denver to Opera infused with Jazz, which was his latest project presented earlier in the year at the University of Denver’s Robert & Judi Newman Center.

Vason used the rodeo not only for entertainment but also as an educational tool, sharing the story of the African American cowboy and cowgirl while touching hundreds of thousands of lives all over the world. The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo has traveled to 33 cities and is known as the world’s only African American rodeo.

Lu Vason’s legacy will live on through the Bill Picket Invitational Rodeo as it begins its 31st year.

A memorial service is scheduled for Friday, May 22, 2015 at 11:39 at Shorter Community A.M.E. Church located at 3100 Richard Allen Ct, Denver, CO 80205.

Expressions of condolence should be sent to Pipkin Braswell Funeral Home & Cremation; 6601 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80220



Wil Alston
Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo
[email protected]