Gene Kilgore’s Ranch Vacations

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The Leading Guide to Guest and Resort, Fly-Fishing, and Cross-Country Skiing Ranches in the United States and Canada, 6th Edition.

Ride ’em cowboy! Find a rodeo near you…

Newsflash

Can you think of a more All-American activity to attend this July 4th weekend than a true Western rodeo? We can’t. Going to a Western rodeo is like taking a mini-vacation to another country. Heck, it’s like another world, where iPods and Blackberries haven’t been invented yet and the only communication skills that matter are how a rider communicates with his horse.

But if you think a rodeo is totally about buckin’ broncs, you are wrongamundo. There are activities for moms and kids, too, often including stylish horse shows, parades, children’s petting zoo areas, and places where city kids can learn about real farm animals and see pretty ponies. And of course, you’re likely to see some pretty cowboys and cowgirls, too, all decked out in their fanciest duds, widest-brimmed hats, and belt buckles the size of dinner plates.

Luckily, the Ranchweb.com home page has a button to click to help you find a rodeo near  you. They are everywhere. There are some 100  events listed in July alone. You’ll find biggies like the Cheyenne, Wyoming’s, Frontier Days and Salt Lake City’s Days of 47, to smaller events like Jacksonville, Texas’ Tops in Texas event.

This month, stampedes are big. Nampa, Idaho has the Snake River Stampede; Elgin Oregon has the Elgin Stampede; Nevada has the Silver State Stampede in Elko; and Mitchell, South Dakota, has the Corn Palace Stampede (I’ve been to the Corn Palace and its exterior is all covered in murals created out of corn–amazing!).

One of the oldest is Cheyenne’s Frontier Days.  Frontier Days is a world-famous annual celebration of the American West featuring the ‘Daddy of ’em All,’ the largest outdoor rodeo in America. I covered the rodeo a few years back and was amused to find that even the media is required to ‘dress the part’ when covering the rodeo. My photographer and I were required to wear western shirts and western hats, boots, and jeans. I loved it (and I still wear that hat).

Details: This year, the 114th edition of the “Daddy of ‘em All” returns on Friday, July 23 and all the rodeo action begins the next day. There’s a host of satellite events from downtown parades to “Frontier Nights” evening concerts to free pancake breakfasts.  – The action draws cowboys and rodeo and music fans from throughout the country for a spirited, ten-day celebration of Western heritage.

Nine days of rodeos sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) will run from Saturday, July 24, through CFD’s conclusion on Sunday, August 1.  Pre-show events begin at 12 noon; rodeos begin at 12:45 p.m.  Nearly 1,500 contestants will be vying for a share of the more than $1 million in money and prizes, plus the prestige that comes from winning America’s best known rodeo.

Like so many rodeos, Frontier Days unites the community and serves as an important boost to Cheyenne’s economy. Across the rural West, smaller rodeos play their own part in boosting their local economies. And just as important, rodeos play a role in keeping a part of our Western culture alive.

So relive a little bit of our Western heritage this July, and go out to a rodeo near you. And if you can’t make one this month, not to worry, they spread across the calendar, and across the map. You’ll find them in cities like San Francisco (the Grand National Rodeo, Horse and Stock Show and Junior Grand National Stock Show to be held October 14-23, 2011) and Denver’s National Western Stock Show.

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