Rodeo Round-Up

So, over the weekend I went to the Pendleton Round-Up, one of the biggest rodeos in the United States, held every year in a small town about 200 miles east of Portland. My good friend CK managed to get free passes and a complimentary hotel room, and I figured it would be a fun little get away for the weekend.

I went to a rodeo once when I was a kid, but that was over twenty years ago. Even though so much of what is associated with rodeos are not part of my daily life, I was feeling the need to step outside my comfort zone a bit, and experience the world in a different environment. Of course, I also thought it would be fun to go to a rodeo and rock my BadAzz MOFOBAMA t-shirt the entire weekend.

I was originally going to write a long piece on the rodeo, but some much crap has popped up over the last few days, that I’m going to keep this brief.

On Friday, CK and I drove to Pendleton. We stopped off in a town called The Dales, where we got to watch a biker beat up the clerk at a gas station. That was when we knew we were in for a treat. On the road we saw a shooting star, which was really cool. By the time we arrived in Pendleton on Friday night, the party was already in full swing. Several blocks of Main Street were closed off, and there were all sorts of vendors, live music and at the end of the street there was a Midway carnival complete with rides operated by toothless men missing parts of their fingers. We listened to a country western band that performed covers of AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” and The Commodores’ “Brick House,” and ended their set with Garth Brooks’ “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places.” Definitely not the best band I’ve ever heard, but big points for bringing a cool country twang to AC/DC and The Commodores. Oh yeah, we also got to see a fight. A real fight. In the street. Between two drunk guys.

Saturday we spent the entire day at the rodeo. We started off at the Native American Dance Competition, which takes place as part of the festivities, before the rodeo competition starts. This was the best part of the day. I managed to get a little bit of footage, which you can see below.

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to have that much fun at the rodeo itself. Rodeos have never held much interest to me, and I think that overall they are a bit on the cruel side when it comes to how the animals are treated. But that said, despite the animal cruelty, the country western music, the overwhelming number of cowboy hats and big belt buckles, I had a great time. When you strip down all the distractions, and just watch the events, you see some incredible athleticism. I was especially impressed with the Indian relay horse race and the women’s barrel racing.

I wore my Obama shirt all day Saturday. I didn’t see anyone else wearing Obama shirts, but I also didn’t see a single McCain shirt. Pendleton is located in a part of the state with more right-leaning politics, so I was expecting to at least see some McCain bumper stickers on the monster trucks, but I didn’t even see those. Several people commented that they liked my shirt, a few gave me weird looks, and only one redneck shouted at me from a moving car, proclaiming that if I was a real man, I would vote for McCain. He took off before I could reply, which is probably for the best, because blood stains are hard to get rid of.

Overall, I had a great time. The best part of the trip was that I stepped way outside my comfort zone, and did something that I swore I would never do. It was a nice reminder that sometimes it helps to open yourself to new experiences. Of course, I still have no plans to ever have sex with another man, a corpse or an animal, and don’t see myself trying any of those in this lifetime.

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