USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘rodeo’
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The Charro Ride – Reconnection to Western Roots

Formed in 1961, The Scottsdale Charros are an all-volunteer, nonprofit group of business and civic leaders in Scottsdale, Arizona that support youth sports, education and charitable causes. From the very beginning, the Charros—by their very name—meaning gentlemen riders, embodies the Scottsdale’s 1947 slogan, “The West’s Most Western Town.”. My father is a member of this group and I have grown up around their traditions and celebration of western culture. Most notably, I remember their annual ride, so I asked my father to explain further what it is, and what it’s purpose is.

“We have been doing it {the ride} for fifity five years. We put together the Charro ride where we have 150 civic minded leaders and take them on a three day horseback ride somewhere unique in the state of Arizona, whether it be a ranch, a forest or a desert. We have been all over the state, a different place every year. It is way for people to get to know our state and see places they wouldn’t normally see. A way for us to appreciate our home and its beauty and to engage community leaders with our state and for them to get to know its beauty. It is a weeklong horseback ride because it’s a way to connect with our western heritage and to live life like a cowboy. Day one the guests arrive by bus, and we meet them, then we give them a horse and ride from there to camp, which is a permanent site with tents and a kitchen, and we camp out under the stars and wake up the next day and go on an all-day trail ride. It’s a very traditional ride. There are events for the rookie riders, like each year they have to do something to entertain us like they do funny skits and things to entertain us, someone is in charge of organizing that, and on the last day we all have a gymkana which is a horseback skills challenge, like a mini rodeo, so you’ll race around the track,, run around the barrels, sort cattle and do different cowboys skills challenges. This happens on the last day, then the wives show up and have a big party in camp.”

 

Analysis:

This is a festival of sorts celebrating and performing Western heritage and traditions. It is a group of men from the Scottsdale and Phoenix area who are civic leaders or participants who meet to engage with their shared Western traditions. It is put on by the Scottsdale Charros, a non-profit group, and participated in by Charro members and non-members alike, however they are all men. It is meant to celebrate the cowboy heritage and traditions of Arizona by participating in a long horse ride, rodeo competitions and sleeping out under the stars like herders of yore. It is the same traditions every year, however in a different place, as part of the festival is to celebrate the beauty and diversity of Arizona landscapes from deserts to forests. It is a community experience to reconnect with cowboy culture for people who shape the community and therefore should be in connection with their community’s traditions and culture. It takes place in the fall, just before winter when the heat has died down and for a week. It is performing the identity of being a member of the Scottsdale/Phoenix community and the identity of living in the southwest.

Customs
Festival
Rituals, festivals, holidays

The Houston Rodeo

Item:

“In Houston, we have the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, casually known as The Rodeo. And um, I think it lasts from the beginning of March to, it’s almost the whole month of March. And basically what it is, it’s a lot of different things, um, you have the traditional like rodeo aspect where um you have, you know the livestock show where you have bull riding, you have you know exhibitions of like various like livestock, um you’ve got like, you know you’ve got that like sort of traditional rodeo aspect. And then it’s also mixed with an entertainment aspect. So like, for every night of the rodeo, there’ll be a different performer, and they’re usually like pretty big names, mainstream country performers and also like you know pop and rock, but they’re all like very big, popular names. So that’s uh a big thing every night, the concert. There’s also the carnival. They have this whole, you know, carnival set up with like rollercoaster rides, ferris wheels, all these different sorts of rides, and carnival type, midway like, you know, like little games and stuff .”

Context:

The informant, who happens to be my brother, related this account of the Houston rodeo while I was home over spring break (the rodeo was going on while I was there). He had this more to say about the role of the rodeo in the lives of kids who grow up in Houston: “When you were young as a kid, you know, we used to go, you know, our dad would take us, you know.  We’d go see all of the livestock stuff, but then you get older and you start getting into high school, it becomes this big social gathering place, like you know that’d be your night. Like spring break would always be during the rodeo. If you were in town, that’s what you’d  be doing every night. Like all the high schoolers, we go to the carnival, everyone gets pretty drunk, rides all the rides and goes to the concert. And it’s this really big social gathering, the rodeo. It’s, you know, this big cultural event. You see all of your friends that went to different high schools that you hadn’t seen in awhile and it’s just this big gathering place, really big time of year, like uh like if you don’t wear it any other time of the year, it’s when you bust out your Wranglers and your cowboy boots. So it’s just a great time of year, and you know just a great Houston, and overall, Texas experience.”

Analysis:

I believe what my brother said about the rodeo (in the context section) to be representative of what most teenage boys living in Houston would say about it. That said, the festival itself presents an interesting phenomenon. Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States. It is by no means a rural place, and it is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country. Therefore, the rodeo presents an opportunity for a bunch of city kids to wear boots and pretend like they are way more cowboy than they really are. So, an outsider looking in on this tradition without any context would picture in his or her mind the stereotypical image of a rural Texas. Don’t get me wrong, that Texas still exists, but not in inner city Houston. Furthermore, by virtue of even having a rodeo, Houston cements a stereotypical image of Texas in outsiders’ minds. I do not see this as a negative or a positive thing, per se. I myself enjoy wearing boots in Los Angeles to show that I’m from Texas, despite the fact that I come from an area more urban than  where most students at this school come from. What really matters, though, is that this festival is important to a lot of people.

Festival

Houston Rodeo

Jonathan “Scotty” Miller

Houston, Texas

March 12, 2012

Folklore Type: Festival

Informant Bio: Bio: Scotty is my good friend from high school. He is a twenty year old Sophomore and Physics major at the University of Houston. He was born and has lived in Friendswood, Texas his whole life. Except now he lives in downtown Houston. Everyone in my group friends is smart, but we have labeled Scotty as the super smart one among the boys because his major sounds the hardest. It is however extremely debatable as to whether or not this is true. Scotty is one of the nicest and calmest people I have ever met. His house is the one we always go to hang out.

Context: None of my friends who are girls could go to the Rodeo with me during Spring Break. So, I asked Scotty to go with me and my parents. Afterwards, I asked him what he thought.

Item: Smells, BBQ obviously. Sounds well Country music. Let me see… sort of carnivaly. The main event of course is things involving livestock like competitions and such. BBQ! BBQ is important because it involves the eating of livestock. Country music is around and rap is getting involved with it because of the younger generation bringing it in I guess. There is old school carnival rides, ferris wheels, tall things you fall from, sort of an old timey southern tradition. There’s a concert and stuff you can buy that goes with that. Cheap beer everywhere. Cotton candy. Something unique to the rodeo, you know where carnivals usually have the things you can win stuff? Only at the rodeo can you win a pick-up truck. The art show is pretty ok. Most of it is done by high school student. It ranges from stick figurey to masterfully done. It various from shop art to tapestries and what have you. It’s usually about boring cowboy things like cows and pigs and cowboy hats. It’s in the convention hall area. You also have the places where there’s abusing of the livestock. You walk around and poke them. Another area where you stare at them and they stare at you. Places you can buy southern attire, lots of cowboy hats, leather items, antler derivatives. Food on a stick. Smoked food on a stick. Deep fried Oreos that’s a pretty good tradition. Oh, people don’t normally wear cowboy hats, but they wear them to the rodeo. But people wear cowboy boots that’s more normal. Also people who don’t normally wear cowhide vests and stuff wear them. It’s really only once a year. You go or you don’t the week when it’s in town. There is only a certain time it’s around. It’s most often a family thing or a friend thing. Or I guess if you’re really enthusiastically country which probably means you’re redneck.

Informant Analysis: Usually a, it’s ah a cultural staple. It’s a moderately pleasant evening where you don’t have to worry about anything bad happening. It’s a safe event, and everyone knows what it is. It’s a thing that people do; it’s a tradition. It’s cool for people and important for other people. I don’t know it’s cool.

Analysis: The rodeo is not terribly important to Scotty. It is just something to do for him unlike other Texans where they feel a sense of pride. The Houston Rodeo has become a blend of old style rodeos and modern concerts and other events. The Rodeo is held at Reliant Stadium and Convention center where the Houston football team, the Texans, plays. There are rules for the competitions and an organized order to the rodeo. It is less local than the way rodeos started out. Rodeos used to be a way for farming communities, where farms and neighbors are really far apart from each other, to get together, compete, eat, get to know each other, and have fun. Now the rodeo is a mix of new and old.

Alex Williams

Los Angeles, California

University of Southern California

ANTH 333m   Spring 2012

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