How To Enjoy a Day at the Rodeo

What to Expect at the Rodeo


First of all, we're going with the assumption that you actually are looking forward to a day at the rodeo, because if you aren't this page isn't going to be any use to you at all.

A typical rodeo begins with a Grand Entry. A group, commonly termed 'the flag girls' will ride into the arena at a slow gallop with flags. The Canadian flag will be the first flag and that rider will lead for a spiraling circle of the arena. She will end up in the center of the arena often accompanied by the bearer of the provincial flag and the other girls will line up in ranks behind her or them. The National Anthem is sometimes played during this entry, but at others, a singer will step up once the riders are in rank and lead the crowd in singing it. The flags will represent the country, the province, the town and all participating sponsors.

As the girls exit the announcer will begin his patter, often introducing the Rodeo Boss, pick up riders and others that work to release the stock, keep the participants safe and generally run a good show. In many smaller rodeos these gentlemen and occasionally ladies are volunteers, please do give them some applause in appreciation of their efforts.

Chuckwagon Legend Kelly Sutherland

In the words of the announcer Aanndd we're off! A typical list of rodeo events follows. Other events may be included but these are the typical ones you'll see at most rodeos.

  1. Tie-Down Roping
  2. Saddle Bronc
  3. Bareback Bronc
  4. Steer Wrestling
  5. Barrel Racing
  6. Bull Riding

In the case of the Guy Weadick Days, held in High River, AB, the chuckwagon races are held after the barrel racing with the rodeo culminating with a specially presented bull riding event.

Some Suggestions

I've spent many happy hours at rodeos over the years, first as a spectator then later as a volunteer behind the scenes. I've even been a participant a time or two, but we won't talk about THOSE bruises. When I go to the rodeo it's with at least two of my children and has been with as many as all five of them. It is possible to survive the day and get in your car and drive home, happily enjoying the memories of the day without any interruptions of mishaps, wish I'd had with me, coulda dones and the like. Trust me!

Preparation is key!

Ideally, you'll want to leave the grandstand with everything you came with (and everyone) along with any souveniers you've picked up during the day.

Here is a suggested list of items you'll want to bring along in a handy totebag.

small garbage bag
for your trash and accumulated clutter
another totebag
one of those 99 cent ones that come all folded up; for carrying the extra thing you will accumulate through the day
arena seat cushions and/or small laprobes
grandstand seats can be hard to sit on for some folks, so a cushion will be appreciated for those who may experience some discomfort. Laprobes can be folded to sit on, and should the wind pick up, will be a welcome layer over your shoulders or knees
even though you've brought hats for everyone, you did, right?
tylenol/aspirin - allergy aids
I find that some sort of antihistamine is handy for my family to have with us, your personal needs will vary.
bug screen
animals standing around will generate some flies and it's never pleasant to be swatting at something when the chucks are rounding the last curve
chewing gum, penny candy, mints
again, your personal family needs will vary but having something like this along has saved me more than one trip to the concession stand and kept me from missing the ride of the day.
small cheap toys or story books
handy for distracting the smaller of your children (and maybe the kid in the row in front of you that will not sit still... ahem.

It's nearly the end of your day at the rodeo

The kids are tired, and despite having had a wonderful time, you're wondering when it's going to be OVVVERRRR. There one event still to go and it's bullriding. Most rodeos end with bullriding for a variety of reasons; but from a spectator's pov it's great because it's usually considered one of the more exciting events and the announcer and rodeo clown and bullfighter (sometimes the same guy depending on the size of the rodeo and level of stock) will have a little performance or ongoing banter to keep the crowd engaged. Hopefully your kids aren't scared of clowns but if they are they will probably enjoy the part when he plays with the bull, climbing in the barrel and tossing a dummy for the bull to catch on his horns, 'cause they can cheer for the bull.

Some rodeos play loud blasts of music to time the cowboy's ride. You might want to warn your children that it's gonna get loud. It's considered good ettiquette to applaud the cowboy, even if he doesn't, well especially if he doesn't complete his 8 second ride, since that's all he gets for his efforts for the day.

I hope that your day at the rodeo leads to many more and that at least some of the tips included here will help the day go well.

see you at the rodeo