It’s rodeo week in my hometown, and each year cowboys and cowgirls gather in the local arena to ride bulls, rope calves and round barrels. Along with the competitors, wannabe cowboys and cowgirls also gather, dusting off their boots, pulling out their straw hats, and taking to the viewing stands for the show.
Aside from county and state fairs, rodeos are one of the few places left where country and city folks mix and rub shoulders. In a public setting like this, it’s important to put our best foot forward and showcase what makes rural America so great.
While some may argue that the sport of rodeo is unnecessarily working up livestock for fun, others point out that many of the skills required to compete are the same ones needed on a working cattle ranch.
Subscribe now to Cow-Calf Weekly to get the latest industry research and information in your inbox every Friday!
Here are five reasons why I think rodeos are a good place to showcase rural America:
1. Each rodeo starts with the National Anthem and a prayer.
Traditionally, a cowgirl sits tall on her horse and proudly holds the American flag in her hand as she gracefully rounds the arena. The crowd removes their hats and caps and honors the red, white and blue. Typically, a cowboy’s prayer follows, and we are reminded how blessed we are to have the freedom to live in a country where we can pursue what makes us happy.
2. Parents can introduce their kids to ranch life.
Have you ever noticed the line-up of little kids who are hanging on the arena fence? They are as close to the action as they can be, gripping the bars of the fence, wearing blue jeans, cowboy hats and boots. Their faces are covered in dust or mud -- depending on the weather -- as bucking bulls stomp their hooves close to where they sit. Parents stand close by, snapping pictures of their kids as they enjoy the cowboy show. And let’s not forget the candy toss. The kids get to go running through the dirt and the sand in the arena to get some candy from a rodeo clown. What fun to be able to bring your kids to an event like this!
3. Rodeos are a place to gather with friends.
Not everyone can be a rancher, but for a day, friends can gather at a rodeo and appreciate the cowboys who do raise cattle and horses. Chances are if you’re at a rodeo, you already appreciate those who live the true Western lifestyle, and the audience is reminded of that appreciation as they sit in the stands and watch the show.
4. Burgers and brats are plentiful.
Beef is the center of the menu at any good rodeo, with brats and burgers sizzling on an oversized grill. The crowd can see and smell the smoke of the hot grill, and it’s hard to resist not having a burger or two at a rodeo.
5. Cowboys and cowgirls can put their ranch skills to the test.
Ranching is a solitary business, and although not every cowboy is willing to jump atop a bull and attempt to ride him for eight seconds, rodeos are a good way for ranchers to gather and socialize, whether they are competing or not. For those who do compete, being able to test your skills against other cowboys helps to sharpen your abilities for work at home, too, whether it’s roping, tying or riding.
Additionally, as a rancher, when you go to a rodeo, you know there will be others like you there to visit with. Rodeos are a good break from the back-breaking work on the ranch. It’s a chance to park the hay baler and head into town to visit with other ranchers about how the calves are growing, what the weather will bring next week, and what prices are looking like for the fall.
If you’re headed to a rodeo this summer -- whether as an audience member or a competitor -- be sure to represent the agricultural industry well. Show the “city slickers” a good time by being the best cowboy or cowgirl you can be. These events might be the only time some of your city neighbors meet or see a rancher, so make sure you leave a positive lasting impression.
Are you headed to any rodeos this summer? Which ones? Share your best memories of rodeos and how you think they help to represent rural America in the comments section below.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
Other popular articles at BEEF: