We are so lucky to have a professional PRCA rodeo to attend in our area each August at the Red Horse Rance Arena. The entertainment is top quality and the outdoor arena is fantastic. This year (August 12), we made sure we went very early so we could get our chairs set up in a prime location. In this arena, there are bleachers on the west side only and the east side is terraced so people bring their own chairs and blankets to sit back and enjoy the show. Of course, the earlier you are, the better placement you have for your chairs. The gates opened at 5:30 PM and we were first in line and got our favorite seat locations so we could see the saddle broncs, bareback and bull riding up close. Steve had checked the weather and we knew we were going to get some rain. In anticipation, we brought rain jackets, ponchos & umbrellas. This was not our first rodeo, folks! We have been rained on before in previous years.
The opening of the rodeo is the best ever with the flags and the gorgeous horses. There is a very meaningful recognition for all the past and current armed service members, a blessing for all cowboys, cowgirls and livestock and finally a beautiful sung National Anthem. It brings tears to my eyes every single time.
The first event was bareback bronc riding. (Don't judge the pictures too harshly as they come from my cellphone.) There are a few things to note in this picture. First of all, cowboy & horse are magnificent! Second, there are some rather dark skies in the back ground. Third, there is a rather large white tent in the background and one small tent canopy to the right of it.
Just as the first rider in the first event finished, an enormous gust of wind lifted the large tent straight up in the air! A huge amount of dirt, along with the aluminum tent legs and canvas began spiraling toward us. I stood straight up, screamed "Girls! Get down." and lunged for them, tucking them under my body as best as I could. Steve flopped down on top of us all. The dirt and wind blasted us. Our chairs went flying. And within less than 30 seconds it was over. We sat up and made sure everyone was ok. Abby had dirt in her eyes, I had dirt in my mouth and stuck to my lipgloss. Steve's Harley hat was MIA, but Kippy found it for him 30 feet from where we were sitting. People were scrambling to get their belongings and get out of dodge.
And here is where the large white tent landed. Right on top of the livestock pens. None of the animals were hurt. None of the audience members were hurt. None of the cowboys & cowgirls were hurt. It was amazing how the protection from the opening prayer kept us all safe.
The rodeo continued on. And a few hardy people stayed including us. We got our chairs back together and our rain gear on & umbrellas out because it started to rain. And rain.
And rain. Ponchos were used to try to keep our legs dry. Kippy even tied one of Steve's extra rain jackets around her legs.
We tried everything to stay dry, but the buckets of rain just kept coming and we laughed about how wet we were getting.
What I like about this picture is you can see the few stragglers in the VIP boardwalk section and also see how muddy the arena became. Also, note: no white canopies in the background. The rain never slowed down the rodeo at all. The livestock, cowboys and cowgirls continued to work hard. It really was a great time.
Three hours later, when it was time to go we loaded up our soggy chairs and trudged back to the parking lot. However, the grass parking lot was now a dark swampy mess. We were sinking down into muddy ruts up to our ankles. I almost lost one of my flip flops. When we reached our vehicle (Honda Accord), we could already see many cars were stuck in the muddy mess. Never have I wanted a 4 wheel drive pickup truck more in my life! Steve started out driving, but the car quickly spun out in the mud. Steve had me switch and drive while he got out to push the car. I should also note Steve was the only smart family member to be wearing boots instead of flip flops. Unfortunately, our car was really stuck. From out of nowhere, another guy showed up beside Steve & they were able to push our car backwards and got it unstuck. Slowly we tried to navigate. Several additional times, the car spun out in the mud and Steve would just keep pushing to get us out. The girls were silent in the backseat as this process was repeated time and time again. Eventually, after almost 25 minutes, we navigated up the side of the ditch and made it to the road. The car was covered in mud. Our feet & lower pants were filthy. My only regret is that I didn't get any pictures of the whole muddy mess, but I was too stressed out trying to get the vehicle out! Ultimately, we prevailed and I think 2011 will be the most memorable rodeo for our whole family.