By Jamie Rieger
Rodeos, fairs, and camping trips; isn’t that what summer is all about? Sure, we still have our day jobs and housework. But, isn’t it nice when some of those other summer activities get to fill our days. (Of course, when I get to take photos at rodeos and fairs, I am combining work with pleasure.)
Well, I haven’t been camping yet this year and no trips are planned, but I have been to a couple fairs and a handful of rodeos so far this season.
I’ve been covering rodeos since 2001 and I have seen some of today’s cowboys and girls rise up from junior rodeo competitors to some of the best on the rodeo circuit. Heck, some of these kids were in 4H when I started and are now married with kids of their own, but they are still out there barrel racing or getting bounced around on the back of a bronc or bull.
And, still cheering them on in the stands are the parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and their extended rodeo family. The moms get nerve-wracked, especially during the rough stock events and dad is likely behind the bucking chutes encouraging his son or daughter (we had a couple of girls compete in steer riding this year).
The rodeo community is like one big family; there for each other for encouragement and looking out for one another. Maybe, that’s why I like covering rodeos so much. Competitive, yes; but at the end of the day, these folks are friends and they want each and every one of the competitors to have successful runs, rides, and ropings.
As I watch the veteran riders, I see all the years of practice and the hard landings in the dirt. I see the determination in their eyes as they try to ride to the bell. These kids have grown up before my eyes.
And, as I sit and take my photos of the young steer riders of today, I think about how brave they are to get on those steers and if they will be riding bulls in a decade or so. (Watch for a feature article about one of these steer riders in an upcoming Commentator!)
There’s a few more rodeos to go as we enter into the dog days of summer, also known as August, and I may not make it all of them, but I will sure do my best to be there. I may not have as much fun as the riders, but it’s close. I go home hot, dusty, and tired, but I sure do have a good time!