Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Saddle Up

Our little town hosted its annual rodeo last weekend. It's been part of the fabric of our community for more than 50 years.

On rodeo weekend, it seems everyone finds their inner cowboy lurking somewhere deep inside. People who normally prefer ballcaps dust off their cowboy hats and mosey down to the rodeo arena. Nike tennis shoes get pushed aside for Justin boots. Adidas t-shirts are forsaken for Wrangler jeans and snap-button shirts.

Of course, we have our share of real cowboys and cowgirls. They look at home in their Stetsons and freshly-pressed Western shirts.

Some of the weekend cowboys look like they're trying a little too hard.

And then there are the littlest cowpokes. They eagerly watch for the parade of horses to begin.

The shiny purple chaps on this little darlin' were locked and loaded around the flanks of a lamb during the mutton bustin' for kids later in the evening. She didn't last long, even with her mom running frantically alongside to cushion the fall.

This little cowboy also had his time in the spotlight during his third attempt at mutton bustin' while his little cousin and the rest of us watched. His dad says his lil' cowpoke usually goes into the contest with a plan. When he was bucked off the first year, he scrambled for the fence and began climbing, just like he'd seen the "real" cowboys do on television.

This year, he planned to make the golden eight-second ride. But, alas, the lamb had other plans.

(Brent with his birthday "twin" and friend, Erica, at the Stafford Rodeo parade)

Our own cowboy also had a short ride on a calf at the Stafford Rodeo one year. With a crash to the ground and the wind knocked out of him, Brent's days as a rodeo cowboy were shortlived, which is just fine with his mother. I know most people love the rodeo's bullriding finale. I watch the event and cringe as the bucked-off cowboys roll away to avoid the hooves of 2,000-plus-pounds of beef pounding all around them. Saddling up on a bike for the rodeo parade is a much safer bet.

Jill also had a fleeting foray into the world of cowgirls. She came home from one Stafford Rodeo with a pink cowboy hat. (That's what happens when Dad and daughter go alone to the rodeo.) The hat didn't make it for the rodeo parade, but she did use the cowgirl outfit from her dance recital to add a little atmosphere to the bike ride. (And it's good that she got a little more mileage out of some of those expensive dance costumes!)

My sister, Lisa, went through a "horse" period in her 4-H career. Somehow, I think it was more about the outfit she got to wear during the county fair judging. This is about as close as I liked to get to Penny the Horse.

Even though I'm not a rodeo fanatic, I still like the atmosphere from a small-town rodeo. Back when we were kids, we used to visit our Sublette grandparents during the Haskell County Fair each summer. As I look back on it, my grandparents probably picked fair week so there were plenty of activities to entertain us.

But the rodeo was a centerpiece to the fair festivities. Now, when I go to a rodeo, I remember Grandma and Grandpa and the smell of popcorn, the majesty of the grand parade and the spectacle that rodeo brings.

It is an all-American extravaganza, isn't is?

And, as the rodeo announcer pointed out, it's one of the only sports that includes both patriotism and prayer as a prelude to the festivities.


  1. Way back when, I was a Rodeo Queen Candidate in Stafford! It was a no-brainer contest since my fellow candidate was the real horse woman, Peggy Turner. It may have been the only time I ever wore a cowboy hat! We rode in a surrey with fringe on top for the parade and had official satin ribbon "queen" sashes. There was a scholarship for the queen.

  2. Those were the cutest litle cowpokes!! Looks like everyone had a fun time!

  3. Brings back good memories. We went to the Stafford rodeo for my birthday for many years!

  4. Good old Penny. She lost favor when I could drive.

  5. Marcia - Randy's sister Kathy was a rodeo queen candidate, too. Her experience sounds similar to yours. She definitely wasn't a true cowgirl, even though I think she won the contest (based on ticket sales, not horsemanship!)

    Thanks to everybody for commenting!