Monday, July 4, 2011

Cowboy Christmas

This weekend is deemed Cowboy Christmas by the rodeo community...the 4th of July weekend typically has an extreme amount of rodeos going on with good added money (sponsor money that is added above and beyond the pot contributed by the entry fees from the contestants) and cowboys and cowgirls meticulously map out their schedule and routes to maximize the number of rodeos and quality (based on added money) of rodeos they attend. It can be a very lucrative weekend for a cowboy or cowgirl, when you are "on" during Cowboy Christmas it is a very good thing. In the professional side of the sport, Cowboy Christmas can make or break your chances at making the finals in Vegas in December.

I've always thought why is the 4th of July was so popular for rodeos and I think the answer is pretty simple. Rodeo is the original all-American past time (sorry baseball). It is a wholesome sport that is filled with mostly good people with family values honoring a way of life that still holds true for a portion of the US. Kids still grow up wanting to be cowboys and cowgirls. There is a lot of tradition in rodeo.

It is a tradition that some of these communities and small towns have been hosting 4th of July rodeos for 30 or 40 years and families have been attending those rodeos for that long as well. They are well supported by the communities they are in and the communities are proud to have them in their town.

It is tradition that there is a prayer before each rodeo performance, asking god to protect the cowboys, the horses, the stock, the arena personnel, the fans.

It is a tradition that the American flag is proudly displayed, often by a rodeo queen before the rodeo begins. Often she will lead the contestants into the arena with the flag for what is called the Grand Entry basically a display of all the cowboys and cowgirls before the rodeo begins. I love the Grand a contestant I almost always rode in the Grand Entry and as a past rodeo queen it was awesome to carry the American flag or follow whatever friend I had conned into carrying the flag that particular performance.

Posting of the colors at a Missouri High School Rodeo in 1998. I'm somewhere in the middle of this photo.

It is a tradition that families spend the 4th of July together attending and competing in rodeos. My parents and I went to White Cloud, KS to watch my sister-in-law and brother compete on Saturday night and were able to see many friends in our rodeo family.

I hope you were able to take in a rodeo this weekend or will have a chance sometime before the end of summer. I also hope all my rodeo friends had a safe and lucrative weekend!

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