In 1985, a few local cowboys formed teams to compete in authentic ranch activities that involved a scoring system used to determine who was the best working ranch. It was an event that not only challenged the participants but it drew a crowd and established a way to support a local charity.
Long before the name Western Heritage Classic was recognized, the ranch rodeo competition included five events – bronc riding, wild cow milking, team penning, team roping and calf branding. Points accumulated over a two-day period. The same format is still followed today.
As the event began to grow, organizers set a goal to build a prestigious event that would preserve western heritage traditions. Activities during the annual event are designed to embody the essence of cowboy lifestyle and history. Everything that happens during the three-day event ties back to the cowboy heritage and "the way it was" back on the ranch generations ago.
Today, the Western Heritage Classic is recognized internationally. Held on the grounds of the Taylor County Expo Center in Abilene, Texas, the three-day weekend event's showcase is the Ranch Rodeo; though it offers many activities that feature western interests as well as history. These activities include: the World's Largest Bit & Spur Show, a Chuckwagon Cookoff, Matched Horse Races, Children's Stickhorse Rodeo, Cowboy Poets & Western Artisans, Ranch Horse Clinics, Western Trade Show, a Western Gala, the Rhinestone Round-Up, a Ranch Horse Sale, the World Finals RHAA Competition, and a giant Western Parade. All of these events add to the wide range that the Western Heritage Classic offers spectators each year.