Jones: Ode to the Rodeo
I didn’t grow up attending very many rodeos. We were too busy on the ranch, and my parents had four little heathens to keep fed and clothed. When we got real lucky, we did attend a few rodeos at the National Western Stock Show, and I was always amazed at the glitter and lights that accompanied something that surely started out so simply.
When my oldest brother spent a couple seasons as a bull rider, I was around the arena at an impressionable pre-teenage stage. I closed my eyes and plugged my ears every single time he got on a bull and hated that eight to fifteen seconds of suspense.
In that time frame though, I heard a lot of the jokes. The buckle bunny, the can chaser, the adrenaline junkie, the whining team roper — on and on and yet all joking aside, I saw more than I heard. I saw a community that was highly competitive yet so supportive of each other. The guy who just replaced the lead score would turn around and cheer for the next contestant. The guy to beat in the broncs still was cheered on by the ones trying to beat him, and if someone wound up in a pickle nobody hesitated to jump over that fence to run towards the chaos to lend a hand.
It was a family, and its baseline was that thing I still love so dearly, agriculture. Each loved and respected the livestock that made it possible. People jumped in to help push roping steers around the arena, load stock after, help the new member with their horse, high-five their competition. It was a community of its own.
Sometimes I think there is a gully growing between each “culture” in the world. Rodeo life, farm life, ranch life… it’s still connected. In my pondering I’ve been thinking about how people are more likely to go to a rodeo than they are to come to your ranch or your neighbor’s farm. The cowboy is still the most easily recognized face of the ag industry, and I’m really okay with that. They stand for the flag, they pause for prayer even if they aren’t a church-goer, they help when needed, they work hard/play hard and they are thankful for the freedoms their country has so they can still do what they love under those arena lights.
Sometimes it’s easy to roll our eyes at that girl getting out of her oversized truck pulling some fancy trailer with all her glitz and glam and shiny buckle and fancy cowboy boots on, but I’m asking you, my fellow ag people, to remember we came from some of the same culture, the same baseline and now is not the time to be letting that gully grow between us, because we have enough people against us and our industry as it is.
So let’s remember to support our local cowboys and cowgirls as they help keep part of the good old western lifestyle alive.
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