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Rodeo is conducted throughout North America in varying sizes from the professional level to the armature events, with a large majority of the competitions centered around the Mid-West, Mountain and West Coast regions, with a small number on the Eastern Coast. Some are conducted at night, while still others are conducted during the day.
July is known as "Cowboy Christmas" due to the fact that there are more rodeos conducted in the month of July, than any other month of the year. The final and greatest rodeo of the season is the 10 day extravaganza held in Las Vegas every December and known as the National Finals Rodeo or NFR for short. This is where the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) determines their World Champion for that year. It should be noted however, that, unlike other sports, there is really no off-season in rodeo. Just before the NFR each year, the rodeo in Kansas City, MO kicks of the following year's season. Rodeo is a unique pro-sport in that it is conducted year round.
During the NFR, Las Vegas hotels play host to concerts by world famous country singers and the convention center hosts a gift show featuring thousands of western shops. Los Vegas in December is where you can enjoy the worlds best rodeo action, country concerts and do some western shopping all in the same general location. If you ever go to see the NFR, make sure you stop by the GOLD COAST CASINO at around 11 p.m. each day to see the presentation of the trophy buckles to the winners of that days round. The hotel is sure to be overflowing with cowboy hats. If your going to be in Los Vegas, you should also take time to stop by Gilley's in the New Frontier Hotel. This is another location that is filled to the brim during the NFR.
For seven days each July, the city of Cheyenne, Wyoming plays host the largest outdoor rodeo in the U.S., Cheyenne Frontier Days, also called the "Daddy of 'em All." CFD is week long festival with people dressed in the attire of the western expansion period as well as parades by cowboys and Indians, exhibitions of equipment used during the late 1800's, concerts by the biggest country music stars of today, and a majestic rodeo. During the last week in July, Cheyenne is just one rowdy party with rodeo action during the day, and country music entertainment at night.
Another great show takes place in July also, but this one is across the border. Each year Calgary, Alberta, Canada hosts the annual Calgary Stampede and the city overflows with cowboys. The Stampede is especially known for its action packed chuck wagon races.
The Professional Bull Riders are an organization which feature only the most dangerous event of bull riding and none of the other traditional rodeo events. Since its inception, its popularity has only continued to grow, and with higher payouts per event, many bull riders are deserting the PRCA to ride in the PBR, or never step foot in a rodeo riding only in the PBR their entire careers. The PBR also hosts its world finals in Las Vegas, with their competition taking place in late October through early November.
If you're going to watch a rodeo, it goes without saying that the closer you are to the arena the better. The further away you are, the less exciting it seems, and furthermore, you should try to get a seat close to the center. It's always best to sit where you are facing the chutes (where the bucking bulls and broncs come out), but as you become more of a rodeo aficionado, you may start to regard the seats above the chutes as the best in the house. From these seats not only do you get a close up view of the roughstock events, but you also get to watch the cowboys as they prepare to ride.
At the beginning of any rodeo, a rider on horseback carrying the American flag will enter and circle the arena, and a singer will sing the American national anthem. At this point, you will notice that all spectators will stand, remove their hats and place their hands over their heart. If you should go watch a rodeo, ensure that you stand and remove you hat out of courtesy. The national anthem will also be played at PBR events, and the same courtesy should be extended here as well.
You can download the schedule of rodeos and events for the PRCA and PBR from their respective homepages.
Rodeos held in little towns can be seen for as little as $10, but when it comes to the big shows such as the NFR, it requires you make advance reservations and will cost any where from $100 to over $400 per seat. Tickets are normally purchased through specialty stores or travel agents. NFR Tickets.com or NATIONAL FINALS RODEO TICKETS are good sources of information in this regard. It should also be noted that during these periods hotels are also quite expensive and hard to reserve, so make sure you plan well ahead. If you're unable to get tickets before you go, ask around at the hotel or local western shops; sometimes you get lucky.
- San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo
- Houston, TX (US) Early March
- Feburary 5(Thu) - 22(Sun), 2009
- Houston Live Stock Show & Rodeo
- Houston, TX (US) Early March
- March 3(Tue) - 22(Sun), 2009
- Calgary Stampede
- Calgary, AB (CANADA) Mid July
- July 3(Fri) - 12(Sun), 2009
- Cheyenne Frontier Days / CFD
- Cheyenne, WY (US) Late July
- July 18(Sat) - 26(Sun), 2009
- PBR World Finals (Bull riding only)
- Los Vegas, NV (US) Late October
- October 30(Fri) - November 1(Sun), November 5(Thu) - 8(Sun), 2009
- Wrangler National Finals Rodeo / WNFR
- Los Vegas, NV (US) First Friday to Second Sunday of December
- Decembr 3(Thu) - 12(Sat), 2009
There are tourist destinations where during the spring through autumn rodeos are held once a week, or even every day. Rodeos are held all over the US (although there are areas that have none), so if you ever have the opportunity to visit the US, you should ask around at the local visitor center or western store, or even a local ranch. You may find a small rodeo only the locals attend in places you didn't think had rodeos.
A lot of the smaller places start their shows at dusk and run into the night under lights. Most places you pay about $10 for bench seating. Some places have nice reserved seats for a little more, but some only have the benches. If they only have the benches, try to get there a little early so you can grab a good place to sit.
- Ft. Worth, TX
- The Stockyards
The Stockyards are located just outside of Fort Worth. The area has a great atmosphere, is home to the world's largest honky tonk and a host of western stores and western bars. On top of all this, you can even take in a rodeo there. It's like a western theme park. I highly advise this place for the novice "Westerners". If you're going to stay over night, the great Stockyards Hotel is highly recommended.
- Cowtown Coliseum
Rodeos every Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. during the summer.
- Billy Bob's Texas
The world's largest honky tonk is not only 2 acres under one roof, but it also boasts its own bull riding arena inside the establishment as well. During the summer months, bull ridings are held every Friday and Saturday at 9 and 10 p.m.
- Cody, Wyoming
- A little town about two hours east of Yellowstone National Park, Cody hosts a rodeo every night at 8:30 p.m. from June to August each year. For four days in early July, the town also hosts the professional level Buffalo Bill Cody Stampede Rodeo as well. It should be noted that Cody only has one taxi company in the entire town, so getting from place to place could prove arduous without a rental car. However, there is a bus from the city to the rodeo arena and back each night before and after the rodeo; just make sure you don't miss it.
- Jackson Hole, Wyoming
- Connected to the southern end of Yellowstone National Park is the Grand Teton National Park. Just further south of the Teton is Jackson Hole. During the summer, the town hosts a rodeo at 8 p.m. every Wednesday and Saturday. With the majestic national parks so near, honky tonks and western stores throughout the town, it is a great place to visit. It has a lot to offer those who are not into the Western lifestyle as well.
Bull Riding Japan hosts events in the Kansai region. Send e-mail to us if you're interested in bull riding in Japan.
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