A bit of American culture… at the Rodeo

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…cowboys decked out in Stetson hats, star-studded button-ups, full-grain leather boots… the smell of manure and BBQ wafting through the air… elegant, sleek horses jaunt into the arena… It’s time for the Rodeo!

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Although I grew up in what some considered “Hicksville,” the agrarian lifestyle wasn’t too familiar to me. The closest I’d ever really come to it was the annual visit to the Puyallup Fair wandering through the livestock pavilion, and from visiting my mother’s family whose livelihood consists of ranching and farming.

So, when I heard there’d be a rodeo in town during the annual Pioneer Days festival (during which the entire state commemorates the arrival of Brigham Young and other LDS pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847), I was excited to check it out!

I dawned the best “Western” outfit I could find, taking into account the warm weather… Denim shorts, a patriotic-red button-up, and my premium leather belt from the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma. Head ‘em up, move ‘em out! Let the lasso-ing begin!

After a short word of prayer, followed by the national anthem, the “Whoopie Girls” raced around the arena carrying the sponsors’ flags. And as they did, I noticed one bearing the name of my employer! I felt so privileged…

Sitting with my friend and her family, we watched as the cowboys wrestled steers…

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rode the Broncos…

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raced around barrels…

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…there was even a girl from Kentucky who stood atop two horses galloping around the arena, riding through fire even! It reminded me of Disney’s movie Toby Tyler about a boy who runs away to the circus and ends up learning how to do stunts bareback.

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We finally came to the main event of the evening… Bull Riding.

I’d seen clips in movies and on TV of bull riders, but never in person. I’d at first imagined the bulls with flaring tempers, out to gore any one or any thing that crossed its path.

Now, the goal in bull riding is for the rider to stay atop the bucking bull for eight seconds. Sounds like an easy task, but when you see that bull come out of the shoot, flailing about, you begin to gnaw your nails, praying the rider makes it! Riders can only hold on by one hand, while being sure their free hand doesn’t touch the bull. If it does, they’re disqualified. And, if the rider falls off before eight seconds elapses, his score comes to zero. Zero!!

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Rider after rider came out of the shoot, hanging on for dear life. At one point, a bull almost gored the rodeo clown! Thankfully, the clown was alright and they got the bull back in the shoot. Riders came from all over… Wyoming, Missouri, Texas, Idaho… there was even one from Ellensburg, Washington! After each ride, the big screen showed a replay of what happened.

All in all it was a fun evening with friends, seeing a different side of American culture… as the sun set, we gathered our things as Ol’ Glory waved gracefully in the breeze over this Land of the Free…

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