Completed: 7. Attend a Rodeo
“Started back in 1929, Cowtown Rodeo has stood the test of time… remaining true to our traditions of the Old West and bringing each of you a taste of western ranching that is an integral part of American history. We are the longest running weekly rodeo in the USA and we hope you make plans to stop in and visit us in 2017 — our 63rd consecutive year!”
Believe it or not, Cowtown Rodeo is in New Jersey, which has now been the location of both the nearest rodeo and nude beach, a goal from 2015. The Garden State is a destination for offbeat-attraction-seekers like myself.
My road dog Erin joined me on this goal. From strip clubs to the rodeo, we’ve experienced a lot together.
Naturally, buying merchandise was the first order of business. This cowboy hat looked so amazing with my bolo and black jumpsuit that I couldn’t refrain from purchasing it.
We arrived early enough to grab decent seats. By the end, it was standing room only, so an arrival time of 7 was perfect for us.
I was expecting the rodeo to be oppressively jingoistic and religious, but this one had the right amount America and Jesus. The emcee announced that the rodeo respects everyone’s freedom of speech and of/from religion and while they say the invocation, if the audience could please reciprocate the respect. If you don’t want to participate, don’t participate. I enjoyed that.
This particular rodeo includes bull riding, bareback riding, and steer wrestling.
I have to admit, I didn’t do a lot of research on rodeos beforehand. Once I was there, I understood more about the controversial elements of rodeos, especially concerning the flank strap, a rope tied around the bull to use its hind legs more in a bucking motion. (I honestly just thought animals naturally bucked when humans got on them, so this was a learning experience.)
Erin and I had a discussion on the cruelty of the practice, as she was the one who tipped me off on the flank strap. Clearly it causes some level of discomfort, but then, and maybe I’m naive, these people love their animals, particularly horse people. I would imagine that someone who cares for an animal of that size has respect for it and humility, similar to respect of the 4-H kids I saw at the Minnesota State Fair.
What I do know is that the cowboys are talented, the animals are both amazing and terrifying, the sport makes me very nervous, and when the bulls came out, I got out of my seat and stood behind the bleachers so that I could be quick to run if the beasts happened to jump over the fence and attacked the crowd. Luckily they didn’t.