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Let’s Rodeo

Before we get started let’s learn how to correctly say rodeo, it’s 

ro-dee-o, not ro-day-o.

I never participated in a big-time rodeo venue. One time I entered a junior rodeo at the Cow Palace. The event was a calf scramble. Some calves were turned loose in the arena and if I could catch and hold the calf, I’d received a prize. I was in high school showing lambs and I didn’t know how big calves were. All I came away with was a sore shoulder.

I recently attended the Grand Daddy of all Rodeos held in Reno, Nevada. Now you probably think of Reno as the sign says, “The Biggest Little City in the World.” The other sign says,”It’s the Wildest, Richest, Rodeo in the West.” The rodeo was started in 1919. They celebrated their 100-year anniversary in 2019. Unfortunately, there was no rodeo in 2020 due to the virus. 

I have attended the Reno rodeo several times. What inspired my renewed interest was a friendship I developed with Cotton Rosser. Cotton owns a rodeo stock company and produces rodeos all across the western United States. His company, the Flying U Rodeo, has been in business for 50 plus years. Producing a rodeo includes providing all of the livestock for the various events. In 2019 the Reno Rodeo celebrated 100 years as well as recognized Cotton for providing livestock to the rodeo for 50 years. Cotton has box seats right next to the bucking chutes (think brahma bulls). I have been fortunate in past years to be able to call Cotton at his country western store in Marysville and get complimentary seats. Generally, there are seven events in a rodeo. They include Bull Riding, Tie Down Roping, Saddle Bronc riding, Team Roping, Steer Wrestling, Bareback Riding, and Barrell Racing for the cowgirls. Many rodeos have added some additional events. One of the added events is Mutton Busting. Young cowboys and cowgirls (5 to 7 year olds) ride a sheep. They are fitted with a safety helmet and lots of care is given so as not to hurt any of the contestants. 

I had tickets that I could not use in 2020, so I rolled the tickets over and used them this year. I did not ask Cotton for tickets this year since I needed to sit in the ADA section. Since this was my first time sitting in the ADA section, I did not know what to expect. A volunteer met me in the handicap parking section and walked me right into my seat. 

A little history on the rodeo. It is produced with 1000 volunteers and only four paid staff. All of the volunteers wear the same-colored shirt on specific nights: pink is for breast cancer, purple for prostate cancer, and so on. The night I attended this year was purple shirt night. So, there I was in the ADA section with my purple shirt. As most everything I do, there is a story. This one is about my purple shirt. Two years ago, I wanted a purple shirt and the store was out of them. I hunted up the volunteer who ran the store and he thought he might have one at home. Sure enough he mailed me his shirt freshly washed and ironed in time for me to wear this year. He even came over to see me in the ADA section. I was the only one in the section wearing a purple shirt.

The event starts out with 25 or so women riding beautiful horses, parading around the arena carrying flags of the major sponsors, lead of course by a horse carrying the American flag. I should be right up front. This event is a display of the likes of Americanism, motherhood, and apple pie. The program starts with the national anthem, followed by a prayer. 

In the middle of the rodeo there is always an all-entertaining event. This year was the entrance of the Broken Spoke Clydesdales. This was a six-horse team of big gentle giant horses pulling a spotless western trailer. They go forward, back up, make figure eights and put on a spectacular show. A smaller team of mules pulled a chuck wagon. On the back of the wagon were the rodeo dignitaries. A third stage was pulled by a six-hitch team of horses pulling the Wells Fargo Wagon. This team is known for the speed it can obtain going around the arena. You can almost imagine a group of bandits chasing the Wells Fargo Wagon some decades ago. There were no raisins from Fresno.

The 10-day event was almost sold out every night, and good luck finding a motel room. Everyone was courteous and friendly. No bullying allowed. My only hope is that my body will allow me to attend in 2022. I’m ordering my tickets early.

One Comment

  1. Steve August 20, 2021

    “No bullying allowed.”

    Unless you’re a frightened animal, of course.

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