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100 Years of Rodeo

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

Happy 5th of July everyone! I’m glad to see you survived the festivities! I’ve spent the last week or so in the Rodeo Capital of the World, Cody, Wyoming. This year they are celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Cody Stampede Rodeo!

What makes Cody the Rodeo Capital of the World? First, this is the town founded by Buffalo Bill Cody himself. While there were a few rodeos in the United States before the Cody Stampede, much of rodeo as a show and a sport came from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show.

The rest came from regular cowboys out there on the range competing to see who could get their every day ordinary tasks done the fastest and get into town to have some fun.

Second, the Cody Nite Rodeo since 1938 has been the longest-running and only nightly rodeo in the world. The rodeo season starts off in June and runs through September every year. The only break in this long record was for World War II.

The Cody Stampede celebrations started off this year with the Clint Black Concert raising money for St. Jude’s Children Hospital. This is the first time to my knowledge that they’ve thrown a concert like this and who knows… it may become an annual occurrence!

My favorite event this year was Xtreme Bulls! This rodeo is specifically showcasing bull riders and fighters. It does take place every year on June 30. I highly encourage you to go and experience it for yourself if you’re in the region! I’ll tell you more about it later…

The main event is the Cody Stampede rodeo that takes place the 2,3, and 4th of July in celebration of American Independence. On the 4th of July alone, dozens of rodeos take place across the country. Those in the rodeo business know it as Cowboy Christmas!

As my good friend, Kim, pointed out so eloquently, rodeo is the last of the western legacy on display for the world. It is a culture, lifestyle, and identity for hundreds if not thousands of Americans. Not every person you see in the U.S. who wears a cowboy hat or boots is really a part of that culture and way of life. Not every person in a suit with a nice watch and no cowboy hat came from a city background. We’re versatile people who love our God, family, and country in that order. You’ll certainly meet a few of us you don’t like! But you never know, you may meet a few you can’t imagine living without!

Every year during the Fourth of July week my family attends the nearest rodeo. Usually, it’s in Cody and it isn’t always of the Fourth. We enjoy cheering for the contestants, laughing at the clowns, and groaning when a cowboy or cowgirl doesn’t get the outcome they had hoped for in an event. This year I went on the 2nd which is Tough Enough To Wear Pink night. A percentage of the money made from tickets and concessions (snacks and drinks) is given to fund Breast Cancer research, treatments, and awareness!

If you’ve never been to a rodeo…. Most rodeos start with a prayer of thanksgiving for the beautiful weather and the ability to gather together to enjoy the sport. The rodeo announcer then prays that the athletes and livestock would be protected during the competition. After that, there is a presentation of the colors. I’ve seen this include just the American flag and like at the Cody Stampede it may also include the flags for each branch of the military. Now if you’ve watched American football or basketball, you know what’s coming next… someone leads the audience in the National Anthem. Usually, this is a person singing but this year it was a very talented violinist. (If you read my commentary on the Mount Rushmore lighting ceremony, you know my opinion on this particular choice for the Anthem.)

I nearly forgot one of the best parts! The Grand Entry! I’ve seen this happen one of two ways. The Grand Entry performance either happens pre-the start of the rodeo with a performance by a drill team… think marching band formations, except on horses… or just after the National Anthem. This year the drill team actually went 10 min. early which was a little strange.

Then the events of the evening start! Generally, they include team roping, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, barrel racing, bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding, and bull riding.

Rodeo even has a half time show! I’ve seen this go in many different ways. Sometimes it’s a contest for the kids in the audience. Sometimes it’s a performance by the rodeo clown. Sometimes it’s the drill team coming back out again but you get the picture. This year it was a rodeo clown performance! My only critique of it was that it was the same performance they put on at Xtreme Bulls so I’m guessing they had the same half time each night. For those of us that enjoy going to every night of rodeo that can be annoying but I guess it gives you 15 min. to get up, grab more drinks and snacks, go to the bathroom and get back to your seat before the next event starts!

My favorite event by far is the bull riding. It’s just a lot of fun to watch! The entire audience is rooting for the cowboy/girl to make it through those 8 seconds (how long they have to ride the bull to get a score). The clown is making jokes and the bullfighters are protecting the cowboys/girls from the bull when they fall off. Everyone is so invested in the ride that the groan when they fall and go absolutely wild when they make the 8 seconds. I’ve even been a part of crowds that booed when the judges didn’t give a score we thought was good enough for the thrilling ride we’d just collectively experienced!

Bull riding is usually the last event of the night. Some people will start leaving as soon as it starts so they won’t get caught in traffic on their way out. I think it’s worth the wait but you’ll have to decide that for yourself.

Depending on which rodeo attend there may be fireworks following the bull riding, which will be best viewed from your seat around the arena! The Cody Stampede isn’t one of those rodeos, in fact, they throw the rodeo early on the 4th so everyone has time to find their favorite fireworks watching spot.

How many of you go to rodeos to celebrate the Fourth of July? How many of you have never been to a rodeo? What is your favorite rodeo event? What is your favorite rodeo snack?

Thank you, fellow adventurers! You can follow the lilmissbearpaw blog page on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @lilmissbearpaw for sneak peeks into upcoming posts and my adventures. This will also be a great place to share your own adventures!

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