El Rodeo

No, I’m not talking about our local Mexican restaurant, but about the rodeo that happens here in Raleigh every Tuesday. Yes, we do live in suburbia, but just a few miles away Carousel Farms runs a rodeo every week at 7.30pm, from May through September.  And it’s just $7.  $7 for some good ol country fun. Yee haw!

I first heard about the rodeo through some of my flickr peeps, who I met up with. I actually didn’t feel as out-of-place as I originally thought I would. The crowd was pretty diverse, so my brown skin didn’t seem to stand out as much.  However, being that tall, dorky looking guy with a big ol black camera around his neck certainly did get me some looks!

So what happens at a rodeo exactly?  Yea, I had no idea either. Unfortunately, I missed the starting ceremonies, which is basically a parade by the Flag girls. On the Tuesday that I went they were going to do a tribute for Memorial day. After their parade though is when the bull riding starts…

Now you don’t have to sit on the benches to watch the action, you can get right up to the fence/gate to get a great view… a view like this:
He still held on...

Yep, that was one angry bull coming right at us. It’s only after the bull clanged against the barrier that the bull rider was thrown off:
He's off...

These bull riders are nuts! And speaking of nuts, they have big ones, made of brass. We stood behind a barrier and felt scared pumped after the bull rammed into it. But to actually be the guy that sits (using that term loosely) on top of the bull?! Damn.

And then the clowns… oops, I mean the bull fighters. The way they come up there and distract these angry beasts?!? Craziness.

Bull fighter...

Remember, “Bull Fighters”, not “clowns”.

Here are some more photos of cowboys with some very dramatic throws:
Flying rider...

A few rides later, I managed to get a shot of this pair:
Get some air!

After this fella got thrown off, the bull took a turn…..
Coming right at us again!

…and headed right where I was standing! As soon as I took this shot, I lowered the camera and stepped back a few feet. You know, in the case his horns struck me through the gap.

Sounds like a good plan of action, right? Wrong. It’s not the bull crashing into the barrier so hard that posed the problem. It’s the fact that he hit the gate section of the barrier. Which we happened to be standing right in front of.

Bull + velocity = Gate swings open = run of the bulls North Kackalacky style. Ole indeed.

So BAM! It happened! And I’m hoping the force of his crash is what caused him to pause and look out towards to where we were standing, but essentially there I was face to face with a bull, minus one bull leap between us. But just as quickly as that happened, the bull fighters and others came around and distracted the bull away. One of the officials quickly closed the gate and made it very clear to us not to stand in that spot again. No need to tell us twice.

After the bull riding was intermission where they had cowgirls come out and warm up for the barrel racing. Now barrel racing is much cooler in person than it sounds.

These women, err cowgirls were amazing. They come flying into the ring and have to circle three foam barrels, arranged in an inverted T. The control they have is quite awesome! This cowgirl was so fast her hat flew off! Well, plus the fact that she obviously didn’t tie it. But that’s not the point, her hat flew off!!
Full Speed.

This guy is a barrel racing judge. He raises his flag if the cowgirl knocks down a barrel.

Barrel judge.

These cowgirls go at full speed towards a turn / barrel and then wail on the brakes into the turn. Next they cut their ride low into the corner / barrel and then it’s maximum acceleration out of the turn into the next turn. And so on. Did you catch why I was so mesmerized by it? It’s like natural race car!

And check out this cowgirl who completely looked the part and was all business:
Red Rider

I mean, yea, that is definitely the combination I picture when I hear the word “cowgirl.” Boots, tight blue jeans, red patterned shirt, shiny (probably rhinestone) belt, and black hat. With long blond hair. And she rides really fast. Not that I had a mini crush or anything. Just sayin’.

Did I mention that I love my wife? Because she is AWESOME!

All in all, there were about 12 riders for the barrel racing. Unfortunately, the pictures got progressively worse since it was getting darker. So I just put down the camera and watched. In awe.

After the barrel racing, it’s time for some fun with the kids! As in, catch the ribbon on the calf!
Git 'em!

It looked like so much fun! I guess that’s why the announcer was specific on the age group (below ten), cause honey I would gone out there for sure. I mean, I apparently do kid like things. The kid in the green shirt in the pictures above caught the ribbon, and won the bragging rights. They then called anyone and everyone in the arena to do the chicken dance. What is it about that song and dance that makes it get played everywhere? To loosely paraphrase a quote from the movie Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (and to make it PG) “Is this some joke white people get and brown people don’t?” Anyways, I’m sure it’s fun in some way, it just never appealed to me to dance like a chicken.

But folks, we’re not done yet! After the kiddos intermission, there was another round of bull riding! At this time it was around 9.15pm and I hadn’t expected for the rodeo to run this long! So I bailed as I hadn’t eaten dinner yet.

Waiting their turn.

Overall, it’s really a nice family environment, with seating all around the ring. Plus they had other things set-up to entertain the kiddos in case they get bored watching cows throw people off their backsides. For $7 bucks, it’s a great way to spend a nice, summer evening watching some down home entertainment.

Just don’t stand in front of gates 😉



Filed under photos, Raleigh, Summer Time!, Uncategorized

4 responses to “El Rodeo

  1. Nice! Did you take those cowgirl pics with your flash?

    I’m telling you, at least you got a southern gal who can relate to all things south. My suburbia wife is re-evaluating who she married ever since she realized that I’m a bit ‘redneck’. i.e. my want for a pickup truck, rally racing, and other aspects that don’t fly in suburbia. Lets just say where we live in Norway is pretty much the equivalent of the south 🙂

  2. Mom

    Very cool! Love the pictures! We will have to go when I visit next time. We went to a rodeo when we visited the ranch in Wyoming and that was awesome too! So glad bulls are easily distracted!

  3. @Bro – yea, full power on the external flash for those, with ISO cranked to 1000. Hey, there can be rednecks in the North/Mid West too, and for you guys, isn’t that what you consider Finland as??

    @Mavi – Yea Beth was telling me about the rodeo too. We should check this one out when you guys are here and compare notes!

  4. Great little write-up. Glad you survived!

    Shooting action in that low of light is really hard. You need a 4pm rodeo with some nice low angle light to really get some shots. Keep going to these to get your timing, framing, and shot selection right, then find something that starts around 2 hours before sundown and bring home some keepers.

    I love that 4th shot in this post. Did you shoot raw? Wondering if you can brighten it up a bit.

    As far as rednecks in the North, every time we are in redneck land here in NY (as in New York the state) I comment to my wife that it’s just like Mississippi or “are we in Mississippi”, and every time for the last 5 years I say this she replies, “Maybe Mississippi is like New York.”

    Point of course is rednecks exist every where, and it all depends on where you go in any particular state as to where you will find the rednecks. New York is a state with pockets of population but thousands of square miles of forest and farmland, in most places upstate 10 miles out of a major town/city it’s farms…you can imagine that there are plenty of rednecks.

    +1 on Rally Racing, never understood NASCAR but WRC is awesome, I suppose it didn’t take off in the USA because it’s not a tailgaiter friendly.

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