BEEF Daily

5 Ways Rodeos Can Help Connect City & Country


Rodeos are a public arena to showcase rural America. Cowboys and cowgirls, make sure to put your best foot forward at these events, so our consumers continue to respect and appreciate farmers and ranchers. Here are five ways rodeos can help to connect city and country.

It’s rodeo week in my hometown, and each year cowboys and cowgirls gather in the local arena to ride bulls, rope calves and round barrels. Along with the competitors, wannabe cowboys and cowgirls also gather, dusting off their boots, pulling out their straw hats, and taking to the viewing stands for the show.

Aside from county and state fairs, rodeos are one of the few places left where country and city folks mix and rub shoulders. In a public setting like this, it’s important to put our best foot forward and showcase what makes rural America so great.

While some may argue that the sport of rodeo is unnecessarily working up livestock for fun, others point out that many of the skills required to compete are the same ones needed on a working cattle ranch.


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Here are five reasons why I think rodeos are a good place to showcase rural America:

1. Each rodeo starts with the National Anthem and a prayer.

Traditionally, a cowgirl sits tall on her horse and proudly holds the American flag in her hand as she gracefully rounds the arena. The crowd removes their hats and caps and honors the red, white and blue. Typically, a cowboy’s prayer follows, and we are reminded how blessed we are to have the freedom to live in a country where we can pursue what makes us happy.

2. Parents can introduce their kids to ranch life.

roping at a rodeoHave you ever noticed the line-up of little kids who are hanging on the arena fence? They are as close to the action as they can be, gripping the bars of the fence, wearing blue jeans, cowboy hats and boots. Their faces are covered in dust or mud -- depending on the weather -- as bucking bulls stomp their hooves close to where they sit. Parents stand close by, snapping pictures of their kids as they enjoy the cowboy show. And let’s not forget the candy toss. The kids get to go running through the dirt and the sand in the arena to get some candy from a rodeo clown. What fun to be able to bring your kids to an event like this!

3. Rodeos are a place to gather with friends.

Not everyone can be a rancher, but for a day, friends can gather at a rodeo and appreciate the cowboys who do raise cattle and horses. Chances are if you’re at a rodeo, you already appreciate those who live the true Western lifestyle, and the audience is reminded of that appreciation as they sit in the stands and watch the show.

4. Burgers and brats are plentiful.

Beef is the center of the menu at any good rodeo, with brats and burgers sizzling on an oversized grill. The crowd can see and smell the smoke of the hot grill, and it’s hard to resist not having a burger or two at a rodeo.

5. Cowboys and cowgirls can put their ranch skills to the test.

Ranching is a solitary business, and although not every cowboy is willing to jump atop a bull and attempt to ride him for eight seconds, rodeos are a good way for ranchers to gather and socialize, whether they are competing or not. For those who do compete, being able to test your skills against other cowboys helps to sharpen your abilities for work at home, too, whether it’s roping, tying or riding.

Additionally, as a rancher, when you go to a rodeo, you know there will be others like you there to visit with. Rodeos are a good break from the back-breaking work on the ranch. It’s a chance to park the hay baler and head into town to visit with other ranchers about how the calves are growing, what the weather will bring next week, and what prices are looking like for the fall.

If you’re headed to a rodeo this summer -- whether as an audience member or a competitor -- be sure to represent the agricultural industry well. Show the “city slickers” a good time by being the best cowboy or cowgirl you can be. These events might be the only time some of your city neighbors meet or see a rancher, so make sure you leave a positive lasting impression.

Are you headed to any rodeos this summer? Which ones? Share your best memories of rodeos and how you think they help to represent rural America in the comments section below.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or the Penton Farm Progress Group.


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Discuss this Blog Entry 6

Emma (not verified)
on Jul 15, 2014

I love going to rodeos. I usually bring a friend from the city with me to their first rodeo. As I sit there explaining how each competition is scored and how it relates to ranching life, I usually get the people around me listening in and get to answer their questions too. It's always a great experience!

Frank Schlichting (not verified)
on Jul 15, 2014

While its true 100 years ago the rodeo reflected ranch life ........not so much today. I can't think of anything in a rodeo that I have used on my ranch in the last 30 years.

Eric Mills (not verified)
on Jul 16, 2014

I'm with Frank on this one. Welcome to the 21st century. Rodeo is an outdated anachronism which belongs in the dustbin of history.

EVERY major animal welfare organization in the country condemns rodeos for their inherent cruelty. Most of rodeo is bogus from the get-go. Real cowboys never routinely rode bulls, or wrestled steers, or rode bareback, or practiced calf roping as a timed event--he'd have been fired on the spot.
Nor did they put flank straps on the animals, without which most would not buck. There's also widespread misuse of electric prods in rodeo (designed specifically for cattle and swine, NOT horses). Most rodeos don't even have the decency to provide on-site veterinarians to care for injured animals. For most of the unwilling four-legged participants, rodeo is just a detour en route to the slaughterhouse. Some "sport"! (Which, by definition, is a competition between willing and evenly-matched entities. Rodeo does not qualify.)

Eric Mills, coordinator
Oakland, CA

Briscoe Boy (not verified)
on Jul 15, 2014

We moved to working chute's and calf tables in the 50's and 60's and motorcycles and 4 wheelers in the 1970's so have to agree with Frank on this one.

on Jul 15, 2014

We love going to a good rodeo! A few of our favorites are our local Farm City Rodeo here in Hermiston, OR and the world famous Pendleton Round Up. We also try to make it down to the Jordan Valley Big Loop each year as well.

Quality stockmanship, knowing how to ride well, the skill of roping a calf quickly and efficiently, and breaking horses are still utilized on many ranches in America (including the one we live on) and rodeo provides an avenue to appreciate those skills in a competitive manner. The western heritage is one that needs to be celebrated, and rodeo helps do that.

Have fun this week at your local rodeo! :)

Naomi Loomis (not verified)
on Jul 15, 2014

I put on a Ranch Rodeo in Bridgeport, Nebraska. I am inviting all of you to it. July 26, 2014 at 5:00 pm
Double A Feeds WSRRA Ranch Rodeo is featuring cowgirls and cowboys. I also have Ranch Bronc Riding. For more information please email me at or find me on facebook at Double A Feeds WSRRA RANCH RODEO.
I love ranch rodeos and think that they are a very important of a story that needs to be told.
Thank You Amanda for writing this article.

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What's BEEF Daily?

BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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