After thirty years, my husband and I represent the attraction of opposites. I’m a city girl—grew up playing Beethoven and tennis. He’s a ranch boy—grew up barrel racing a horse called Lollipop and . . . well, let’s just leave it at that.
But one of our big annual events is the county fair and rodeo. The grandstands are packed. Americana abounds. Summer is ending. (It ends early in this mountain valley so please weep for me.) I’ve never seen so much fringe and sequins in one place in my life. Except for maybe Studio 54 in NYC, but that was the 70s after all.
Although I’m not a fan of calf-roping (being drawn-and-quartered is cruel IMHO), I marvel at the athleticism of the cowboys (hubba hubba) as they ride bucking bulls and stallions, and wrestle calves to the ground after leaping from a horse.
The horses are incredible. The cowgirls who barrel race are faster than a speeding bullet—while TURNING three times! And the bulls, which my husband says are part Brahman so born with a bad attitude, are big enough to scare the wazoo out of anybody: twelve-hundred pounds of slobbering nastiness!
The rodeo is a patriotic event. Organizers recognize local servicemen and women on championship night. Funnel cakes and corny dogs and a few things I don’t even recognize —swirly potatoes fried on a stick?—pass back and forth in front of the grandstand. And the beer vendor promenades, shouting like an imam calling the faithful to prayer.
But the point is, this diverse crowd pulls together to support a tradition as old as the sixteenth century, when the Spanish conquistadors and Mexicans began to manage cattle and horses. It’s part of my husband’s heritage, something we shared with our two children. It’s a celebration of doing something—being a cowboy or cowgirl—well.
And did I mention the mutton-busting, the sport loved by every visitor? Ranching traditions start young. And every cowgirl should own a pair of pink sparkly boots. This year’s winner rode a ewe for a good twenty yards before falling onto the dirt of the arena. His trophy, capped with a statue of a sheep, was a foot taller than he was, and his mother will be dusting it for years.
Enjoy your summer—county fair and rodeo or not—and we’ll catch up in August. Yee-haw, ya’ll!