Rodeo Forty Years Ago
The trailer is unhooked and parked at the edge of the field in the trees. The horses have been unloaded, brushed down and are tied in the shade where they can relax until they are needed. The truck has been backed up to the arena fence, the tale-gate has been dropped and sits ready to provide seating to enjoy the early morning slack or afternoon performance of the rodeo.
People visiting and mingling with friends and family as they go about getting ready for events they are entered in. Little ones are excited to be part of the mutton busting and calf riding. Next up the generation ladder kids wait their turn to ride steers and team rope with a sibling, parents or good friends. Teenagers and adults alike are warming up their horses for calf roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing.
The younger generation hone their skills by swinging ropes at bales of hay and tying calves made out of half a tire with legs made of four sticks cut to the appropriate length. Watchful mentors giving advice and praise over the efforts being made.
The smell of hamburgers and onions cooking on the grill at the outdoor concession stand waifs through the air along with the aroma of strong brewed coffee. All mingling with the odours of the rodeo grounds.
The announcer has done his sound checks and the person acting as the rodeo clown for the day is finishing his face paint while running through his scheduled afternoon antics in his mind.
The stock contractor trucks arrived the day before to unload the rough stock and the local ranchers that are supplying the calves and steers have long since been and gone in the early morning hours. Their contribution of stock is safely penned in corrals located behind the arena.
Sounds from behind the chutes indicate that the bareback horses are being run into the chutes to await the cowboys who have drawn them. Soon the bareback rigging will be in place and horse and rider will explode from the gate when it opens.
The performance will soon start with a grand entry and introductions of the community leaders and organizers that have worked so hard in preparation of this day. Recognition will be given to the oldest and youngest person entered, local celebrities such as a student who has won a scholarship, rodeo royalty from another town, the timers, and the judges and pick up men.
For those who came, performed their best, and maybe, just maybe, were lucky enough to take home a little bit of the prize money; the luck of the draw was on their side.
This was rodeo forty years ago; and at the end of the day when the trucks and trailers were pulling out of the rodeo grounds to head home; there was a comfortable feeling of belonging.