World's Toughest Rodeo gallops into Raleigh
By Dathan Kazsuk
I’ve coined 2013 as the year of trying new things. New restaurants. New hobbies. New friends. So why not add going to the rodeo as one of the things I’ve never done in my lifetime.
Sure, I’ve been to the circus. I’ve seen the Harlem Globetrotters perform (back when they had George “Meadowlark” Lemon and Freddie “Curly” Neal). I’ve even been to a couple fundraiser basketball games where the Merced and Atwater fire and police departments went head-to-head against members of the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers. It was the 4th string scrubs that you never heard of before, but nonetheless, as a kid, it was exciting.
I’ve never been to a rodeo – until the other night, – when I was at PNC Arena for the World’s Toughest Rodeo competition. I didn’t know what to expect. Sure, I was thinking thousands of cowboys and cowgirls – and that’s exactly what I got. But I also saw a lot of average families taking their children out for a fun night, and a melting pot of mixed ethnicity.
Before the show got underway, a handful of families were able to go out on the dirt to get autographs from some of the participating cowboys, while children were able to get their picture taken on a fake bull or hopping inside a clown barrel. There were even a couple cowboys teaching the young ones how to lasso their own miniature bull.
The crowd was excited when the first event sent cowboys out on top of bucking bronco to try and stay on longer than 8 seconds. Some did a good job at lasting the full 8 seconds, while others … well, if you blinked you missed them fall on their behinds as soon as the gate opened.
I was snapping away, taking my share of photos by the far end of the surrounding gate thinking to myself, “I’m safe here.” Not long after that, the gate opens and out comes another horse and cowboy. OK, they’re coming right at me. Still not moving in another direction! Horse, move away! Shoot, time to step back. As soon as I do the horse and cowboy plow into the gate and the cowboy falls off the horse, pretty much right at my feet. No photo is worth getting trampled by a horse, I say.
Between breaks, members of the rodeo kept the crowd entertained with funny banter and jokes, a Chris Farley-esque impersonator was trying to capture a gorilla in the middle of the dirt arena, and kids signed a waiver to ride on adult sheep in what they called “Mutton Busting.”
I didn’t stay for the entire event, but being close to the action made the rodeo a pretty fun event. Hell, it’s not every night that you can say you were mere feet away from both a horse and bull a metal fence away from making you as flat as a pancake.