Friday, July 6, 2012

This Ain't my First Rodeo (actually it was)

A few weeks ago, Diana and I heard that the Black Rodeo would be coming to Jackson. We both made a mental note of it, and when there was an ad for it in the paper a few days ago, we decided that we would go to the Black Rodeo Parade that preceded it. This morning we headed downtown for the parade which was pretty much exactly like the Medgar Evars Homecoming Parade--trucks honking, politicians/local organizations driving and throwing candy, and tens of people on horseback. The parade was only an hour--nothing like the long, drawn out, float-filled parades both of us are used to from home. 

Horses don't just wear shoes, apparently--sometimes they have "socks". This was the most colorful set, but there was also a man with America-themed horse decorations, and a woman whose horse had hot pink reins and socks, among many others. 

After the parade ended, we looked at each other and realized that $22-day-of-rodeo tickets were absolutely worth it: when else were we going to see a rodeo, much less the Black Rodeo? Neither of us had ever been to a rodeo before, and we had absolutely no idea what to expect. We figured it out pretty quickly. Below are lots of pictures, and one video from the 10th annual "Baddest Show on Dirt":

Among the first "events" was bull-roping. You know, classic cowboy throwing a lasso around the neck of an angry, speeding bull. Those things are about 10 feet long and weight about 2000 pounds. 

One of the cowboys (not this one, I don't think) was from Ponca City, OK, the first city  whose Jewish history I wrote about for my work at the Institute.

Another event included lassoing a young bull, hopping off your horse, running over to the bull and tying its legs together--the bull had to stay down for some amount of time, or it didn't count (like wrestling). The guy in this picture was so fast. He was tying his lasso around the bull's legs before I even realized he'd lassoed it!

The rodeo is really not a place for squeamish people--or animal rights folk. To get a better tying position after he'd lassoed the bull, this cowboy literally picked up the bull (imagine how strong that cowboy is!) and placed him down on his side.

When the cowboys needed a break, they brought out this group of synchronized riders (I forget the name of the "company"). It was nice...but not as exciting as the rodeo events. 

After successfully wrangling a bull, this cowboy pulled out some breakdance moves in celebration.

One of the scariest events to watch was this, in which two cowboys on horseback and a charging bull are released from the pen at the same time. The goal of the cowboys is to sandwich the bull so one of the cowboys can slide off his horse onto the bull and wrangle it to the ground. They're judged on how quickly they succeed (if at all).

Don't worry, this guy didn't get gored. A fraction of a second after this photo, he had the bull's horns on the ground in a hold.

Only one of the competing pairs succeeded in this event: one cowboy lassos the bull around the neck, while the other has to lasso one of its feet. 

A couple of events were for cowgirls. This one is called barrel racing. There are three barrels set up in the arena, and the cowgirls' mission is to drive their horses around each barrel and run back to the gate, completing the sequence as quickly as she can. The fastest cowgirl was a girl (I think she's 14 years old? Maybe 15?) who completed the sequence in 13.720 (or was it 13.702?) seconds. She was from Muskogee, OK--the first town Diana wrote about for the Institute.

Of course, no rodeo is complete without bull-riding. Some of these guys were really impressive in their abilities to stay on a 200-pound animal while it jerked and bucked and twisted trying to literally send them flying through the air. Only once person almost got gored...

Immediately after being thrown off, the cowboys have to stand up and run, so the bulls don't charge them. One of the cowboys jumped clear over the fence.
Two things I did today that were not rodeo-related:

Diana had heard about Choctaw Books, a used bookstore a little north of downtown. We drove around and found it, and I was absolutely unprepared for what greeted me when I walked in, a sample of which is visible in this picture: books everywhere. Piled in the aisles, stacked on top rows of books on shelves, in file cabinets, on chairs, covering desks, flowing into doorways. Mom and dad be warned: if we don't stop buying more books, this is what our house will turn into. I also found a package of Oreos in a file cabinet. I won't tell you how old they were, I'll just say that the logo was very different from the logo today--and that there were still cookies in the package. 

The other non-rodeo thing I did today that was noteworthy was go out to dinner with the president of the Princeton Alumni Association of Jackson and her daughter, a junior at Rice University. Earlier in the summer I'd contacted her, because I'd heard that Princeton alum always love meeting current students who are visiting their cities. She immediately offered to take me out for a meal at some point over the summer, and tonight was when we finally worked it out. We went to a Japanese and Thai place called Fusion and who should I see when we walked in but Stuart, my boss at the Institute! Jackson is a small, small place.

We're going back to Oklahoma a week from tomorrow (Lawton, Oklahoma City, and Guthrie), so there'll be another post then, if not sooner (get it? Sooner?)

1 comment:

  1. Find an illustrator! (You seem to like watercolors.) Something about your post seems like it would make a great children's book. As for "sooner," no, I don't get it. Tally ho, NA