Redneck Rodeo

All US sporting events have a strong nationalist tone to them. This was no exception as the announcer – who had probably never travelled out of state, let alone out of country – extolled that America was the greatest country in the world. I briefly wondered what set of criteria had been used to come up with this conclusion and what data sources trawled, but I then had to stand for the American National Anthem. With cap in hand over my heart and trying to reach the very high notes of a very difficult song, I was already too multi-tasked to think as well.

More unusually, this event had a religious tone. The announcer told us that America was turning into a heathen country and that only faith in Jesus and a return to traditional values would save the USA. The crowd cheered in strong agreement. The rodeo knew its audience.

Lorna and I had been to rodeos before, but in the West rather than the South. This had all the bravery of the riders of the West, but with added religion, family values and Republican politics. In essence, the rodeo was more similar to a circus, and indeed one of the two main comperes was dressed in clown outfit. Unlike most circuses however, this was fantastically entertaining.

There was constant good-natured Democrat and Obama bashing, including this joke:

Barrack Obama, Joe Biden and Hilary Clinton were stranded on a desert island. Who was saved?

America.

Both the US flag and the Confederate flag were celebrated (not at all unusual in the South), but this wasn’t offensive to people of colour in the crowd as there weren’t any. The only non-white person there was paraded, alongside a cowboy, on horseback dressed as a Red Indian in full head of feathers as the show began. It later became obvious that she was just wearing make-up.

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We were in Young Harris in the North Georgia mountains, a town of 899 people (and 74 families!) named after the law college based there which was set up by the philanthropist Judge Young L. G. Harris. The whole town plus those from neighbouring districts had all turned up for the evening.

There was a pre-show act, an Elvis impersonator so bad that I wondered whether he was supposed to be Presley or Costello. I thought the music was going to be entirely country music, but there was a a wide mix selected to entertain the crowd, including UK’s own Slade.

The whole event was marvellous entertainment.

And, of course, there was the rodeo – in this case the South Eastern professional rodeo circuit.

These men and women are incredibly brave and fantastically skilled. Nothing would persuade me to jump onto an already bucking steer or deliberately distract the bull to prevent it from goring the fallen rider. The competitors rode unbroken horses and bulls; lassoed and bundled calves; and raced around barrels. I can’t imagine that there would be an animal charity in the world that would approve, but it was impossible not to marvel at the skill and bravery.

After the event, Tilly wrote on facebook that she was going to marry a cowboy when she was older. I genuinely think she could do worse. About 5 years ago, a man in a pick up truck changed lanes and crashed into the car I was driving near Atlanta. He immediately admitted responsibility and, while we waited for the police (a requirement in the US after an accident), told us his life story. He had been a professional rodeo rider for many years but had broken his back and been confined to bed for almost two years. When he recovered, he immediately went back into rodeo. Stupid? Maybe. Brave? Certainly. He was a great guy, and it was my privilege to meet him.

I will leave you with one joke from the evening. Why is it so hard for the police to solve a redneck murder? Because there are no dental records and all the DNA matches.
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Tilly trying the bucking bronco for herself

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lisa Dunn on May 24, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    True Americana! Love the jokes

    Reply

  2. It seems glaringly obvious that stupidity and bravery are one and the same.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Anonymous on May 24, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Enjoyed you tongue firmly in cheek report. I enjoyed a similar patriotic comment from a Texan pilot last week while flying Dallas to Milwaukee. The US is clearly God’s own country and don’t dare disagree!

    Reply

  4. Posted by Marilyn Bishop on June 14, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    It was very entertaining. What I didn’t realize was the riders were being very competitive because they earned good money for winning. Actually there is no need to break a horse the way they did. Simply getting the horse to accept you as a non predator is a much more humane way of training a horse but I suppose it is much less fun to watch.

    Reply

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