Sunday, October 7, 2012

Rodeo Weekend

Friday night, I did something I had never done before. And then Saturday night, I did it again.

Julia's teen group was going on an outing Friday night, and this time around they were going down to the Flyers' arena to see Professional Bull Riding on tour. When Julia was little, she used to love bull riding on TV, and there used to be one channel where she could find it fairly regularly, so she was very excited at the prospect of seeing it in person. Grace liked the idea as well, so we picked up three tickets cheap on Stub Hub and decided we would go separately. While I can't say as though this is something that has any real interest for me, any chance to get out with the family and do something different is always nice.

We dropped Julia off at 6, and grabbed a quick dinner on the way down for the 8pm show. In the car on the way, we laughed when we got a text message from our good friends across the street asking whether we thought our kids would like a cowboy hat. We texted back something to the effect of "we know where you are going tonight!" When we got there and got to our seats, there were maybe only 5,000 people in the 20,000 seat arena, and we could see Julia a few sections to our left and our friends directly across from us. We all had a good laugh at that, waving at each other like little kids.

As for the event itself, it was different, but fun. The bulls were amazing, and the riders were impressive. The riders were from the expected parts of the US (TX, OK, CO and NC), with many others from Brazil and Australia. I can't imagine how hard it must be to do what they do. They are the best in the world at this, and the vast majority couldn't stay on the the full eight seconds to register a score. There was one bull toward the end that was astounding. Most bulls seemed to fall into two general categories, at least to the untrained eye; the "buckers" and the "spinners." The bull at the end that had the crowd gasping did something I wouldn't have thought possible. It came out of the chute, bucked once or twice, and then jumped straight up in the air several feet off the ground. Vertical. Straight up like on a pogo stick. I still can't believe it. That was Grace's favorite (and mine!). She also like the rodeo clown.

We all had a good time. The music was loud, everything seemed pretty informal, and the crowd was treating it more like a party than anything, and most importantly the girls had fun.

Saturday ended up being something similar. The neighbors were going the Unionville country fair, not far from us, and we decided to go as well. The highlight of that show was to be the second annual Willowdale pro rodeo circuit event at 6pm. Unlike Friday, this event had 7 different kinds of things, including steer wrestling, calf roping, bucking broncos, team roping, women's barrel riding and bull riding (again). As the announcer kept reminding us, these were the best in the northeast US at these events, but on this particular night, the animals came out on top by a very wide margin. Steers wouldn't go down, calves wouldn't get roped, barrels wouldn't stay up, and riders couldn't stay on anything that was moving fast or unpredictably. It was still fun, although it was chilly and the sight lines at the temporary arena weren't very good. If anything, it made me appreciate how good the guys on Friday night had been after not a single rider in this event could stay on for the full eight seconds.

So... Forty plus years of my life with no rodeo, and then two rodeo events in two days. I can't say as though I am a convert by any means, but it was nice to do something completely different. The kids had fun and have asked if we can go again when they come back next year. I guess that a year from now, I just might be ready.

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