Friday, January 30, 2009
The Eagle Has Landed
The life of a rodeo man is typically lived at 100 mph. Despite being fast paced and somewhat dangerous, the rodeo lifestyle gets in your blood and quite frankly I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jamie and I have just returned home from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where I was fighting bulls at the PRCA First Frontier Circuit Finals Rodeo. The First Frontier Circuit is one of 12 circuits in the PRCA and is comprised of 13 northeastern states from Maine to West Virginia.
We had a great time seeing old friends, meeting new people, acting like tourists and doing interviews highlighting the Wyoming lifestyle! Rodeo is such a small community when it comes down to it no matter where the road ends and the event begins you can rest assured familiar faces will surround. This would be no different 1600 miles from home.
The rodeo started off with a Challenge Rodeo featuring over 40 contestants. It was great to see the smiling faces compete despite their physical hardships. I was able to help take a wheelchair- bound contestant through the barrel racing pattern so fast that the cowgirls themselves were envious of our record time. I bet he is still smiling from the thrill of burning rubber!
As soon as I was done with the Challenge Rodeo it was time to head over to the Department of Agriculture Expo and be interviewed for a radio show before a live audience. My degree is in speech communication and I’ve never had a problem speaking in public. When you add that to my passion for Wyoming you might as well get comfortable because I’m going to talk Wyoming for awhile! KJ, the radio talent who was interviewing me, now has a trip to the Cowboy State in her very near future. And who can blame her.
Seeing a real Wyoming cowboy in the heart of Pennsylvania’s capital city was almost like walking the streets in Asia with a cowboy hat on. People have always been fascinated by cowboys and the western way of life so it was only natural that people wanted to learn more about Wyoming. As a matter of fact, while I was preparing for the first rodeo performance the PA Secretary of Commonwealth, Pedro Cortes, and family stopped in to meet me and get a backstage look at the life of a rodeo cowboy.
It was great to be a small part in the success of the First Frontier Circuit Finals. When you think of rodeo you can’t help think Wyoming, Cheyenne Frontier Days and 8 Seconds. So perhaps it was only fitting that a Wyoming cowboy was on hand to perform and it was great to be there in front of a packed house all three performances. I have to hand it to the citizens of the northeast for coming out in record numbers to support the rodeo. Also in attendance for her first rodeo was Secretary Cortes’ third grade daughter.
In between the rodeo performances, interviews and award banquets Jamie and I were able to tour the Hershey Chocolate Factory in Hershey, PA. Being a big “chocolate lover” touring chocolate world was a great treat. But one tip of traveler’s advice - put new batteries in the camera before you arrive at your destination. Talk about a bloated stomach with no pictures to prove it. I ate chocolate for three hours straight only to discover the camera was dead; priceless! I guess it’s better to happen there than in the middle of Wyoming when a big grizzly bear stands up on its hind legs reaching for the wide open sky.
I really appreciated the hospitality extended to Jamie and me during our visit as well as the honor of being selected to work the Circuit Finals. It’s always humbling when the bull riders themselves vote you to protect them based on your abilities inside the arena.