There are few things that are more Texan than a rodeo, and the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is one of the best. The air was filled with the smell of livestock, BBQ, fried food, and—of course—beer. In any given direction you look, there was a guarantee of seeing someone in a pair of cowboy boots coupled with a hat. And, maybe best of all, a live band played Johnny Cash and Jim Croce classics on repeat.
Despite being from Minnesota, this was not my first Rodeo. A couple of years ago, I went to one in a small Montana town. Let me just say, the phrase “everything is bigger in Texas”, has never been truer. The crowd is bigger, the bulls are bigger, the beers are bigger and the hats are bigger.
I don’t think that the average person really considers any of the competitive events at a rodeo as being a sport. However, to the audience and the participants, it’s even more. Many of the participants are cowboys and ranchers who have grown up riding bulls and horses. All the events are a mix of unpredictability, danger and pure muscle, as the rider can train as much as they want, but the horses and bulls are still just unpredictable animals. The combination of an animal’s unpredictable nature and the fact that they weigh much more than a person, make any event extremely dangerous for the riders. To combat this danger, riders must be incredibly calm and strong and know what to do in any situation, otherwise, it could be fatal.
On top of this, the whole event was very patriotic. The announcers acknowledged the military many times throughout the event and recognized all the branches in playing Salute to America’s Finest. Additionally, there was a swearing-in ceremony for the Army. This was by far my favorite part of the whole rodeo. The officer started off by saying “are y’all ready to join the greatest team on earth”, and the whole audience applauded with American pride. It was refreshing to see that there are people who still love their country. Then when the officer got to the words “I will obey the orders of the President of the United States,” the audience erupted into applause. I have never been anywhere, besides a Trump Rally or other political events, where there has been even close to that amount of approval of our president. Being a Trump supporter and hearing this similar approval for him from other people made me feel proud and comfortable with publicly expressing my political views for the first time in a while, as oftentimes public advocacy for the President is bound to incite some type of rage from somebody.
The rodeo ended with a performance by Brad Paisley. I am more of a bluegrass and outlaw country guy and don’t usually like country pop music, but Paisley is an incredible guitarist so it ended up being quite enjoyable and a great end to the night. All in all, the Rodeo was a positive experience as a Minnesotan. I gained a newfound respect for the athletes, I can rejoice in the fact that our country still has passionate patriots and I gained some much-needed confidence in my political views—all from just an afternoon at the Rodeo.
Photo courtesy of Tim Hoeksema. From left to right: Nathan Darsch, Vaughn Kohl, Blaise Fort and Tim Hoeksema.