Monday, May 30, 2011

The Future: Princesses and the Texas Jr. High Rodeo Association State Finals

Phew! Just got home from where the best of the best middle school age rodeo contestants have begun their quest in winning that state championship gold buckle.

After having the privilege of judging the state Junior High Rodeo Princess Pageant, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to challenge the misconception that "Rodeo is a dying sport". After the judging was done, I was also able to gather some information from the girls who are facing challenges among their peers who are not rodeo contestants. They all agreed that sometimes in school, their friends might express that rodeo is just not a so called "cool" sport. This allowed me to question the girls further in having them define their roles as Princesses, since it is a common misconception that the pageant side of rodeo are simply girls with nothing more than a pretty face.

Before the crowning of the new TJHRA Princess, I was able to visit with the contestants and see what their take was on the notion that rodeo is a dying sport. All of the girls seemed floored when I asked the question, and defended it tooth and nail. Dakota, the Region 10 Princess pointed to the door and said "Just look at the line to get in, there are so many people here to see!" The girls were right, the stands immediately filled up.

Most of the girls explained that only one, if not both of their parents had not been extremely involved in the sport prior. This was proof that the sport is growing and has future with new faces.

Below are the contestants, along with the 2010 Miss Rodeo Texas Princess, Kennady Johnson and Miss THJRA Princess, Sissy Winn

The young ladies explained that their role as Princesses was to spread awareness of the sport to encourage other young people to get involved. This drew a picture, that the foundation of the sport starts at the youth level.

The selection of the princess is divided into the following categories: Speech, Modeling, Interview, Impromptu, Appearance, Horsemanship, Test and Congeniality. Talk about a lot to know for middle schoolers.

The contestants nervously awaiting the results.

And your new Miss TJHRA Princess is... Whitlee Reed!

Making her first "Princess Run" at the first performance of the finals

After the awards ceremony I was able to get a video interview of Whitlee and talk to her about what it took to earn the title and her duties would be for the year. She was so anxious to get started! She explained that it took a lot of hard work and studying, much more than most people think. She told me she was excited to speak at schools and get other kids her age excited about the sport.
This little cowgirl was beaming with joy, ready to show the world what the sport she lives and breathes for is all about. I must say, all of the contestants were much, much more than just a Pretty Face.

I'd like to say a special thanks to the Graham family for allowing me to interview the girls after the pageant!

I will follow up this post with interviews from the Miss Texas High School Rodeo as well as Miss Rodeo Texas regarding the royalty of rodeo. 

Happy Trails!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bullfighters, Barrel Men, Clowns: Differences and Clearing Delusions

Survived my first outing for interviews!

I had a wonderful trip to the piney woods of east Texas, where I met up with some of the industry's finest barrel men, bullfighters, clowns, and contestants at the Jasper Lions Club Rodeo. Everyone was very welcoming and the guys definitely gave some great perspectives challenging the false impressions of their respected areas of rodeo.

Meet my first interviewees: Wacey Munsell and Aaron Ferguson-PRCA Bullfighters
Wacey resides in Ulysses, Ks and is a 3rd generation, World Champion Free Style Bull Fighter. I got a FANTASTIC interview with him, as he was able to greatly define the difference between a rodeo clown and a bullfighter. He explained that even though the bullfighters wear face paint, it is their job to be "Cowboy Life Savers" and distract the bull away from the bull rider to allow him to get to safety after the dismount of the bull. Wacey also defended the misconception that bull fighters have a bad "rap" of being involved in drugs and having lower morals and values. Wacey said that it would be physically impossible for him to preform his job, because being a bullfighter takes great physical shape to run, and have the endurance to work long rodeos. Notice Wacey's shirt: He takes pride in being a supporter of the "Tough Enough to Wear Pink" nights, and carries cowboy Christian books with him in his travels.

Aaron, the Canadian Bull Fighter, is from just south of Calgary in a town called High River, but currently resides in Ada, Oklahoma. Aaron was great to work with and was able to explain with ease the physical strength it takes to be a bull fighter. Playing hockey since he was three, Aaron explains that he does cardio and plyometrics to train his body to do his job. "The more physically fit you are, the less you are prone to injuries", he said. Furthermore, Aaron clarified that the reason bullfighters wear face paint, is a traditional thing that has carried over from the old days. He also said that the kids love it, and that they are always willing to sign autographs and spend time with the fans. Aaron proves to be a great role model and made clear that there are always a few bad apples in a bunch, but "Rodeo is just a group of GOOD people."

Introducing, The Barrel Man: Andy North

Andy lives in Piedmont, OK, where he is a PRCA bullfighter, barrel man and clown, depending on the specific rodeo. In Jasper, he served as a barrel man, where he explained that his job was to entertain the crowd in times of void, but most importantly to serve as a "safe haven" for cowboys and sometimes jump in as a third bullfighter. Andy was great to elucidate that Rodeo Cowboys lead other lives beyond the arena. He is a middle school principal in Oklahoma, as well as a part time Red Dirt Country Singer. His passion for his job and his family was incandescent as he spoke. He vividly illuminated the camaraderie and compassion the bullfighters and barrel men have for each other, and was proud to defend that the foundation sport is on a basis of good values.
Andy, allowing the bull fighter to jump the barrel to escape the bull!

Wacey diverting the bull away from the cowboy.

Thanks guys for helping me with this project! What a fun rodeo! Can't wait to get started on the videos!

Happy Trails!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Very Beginnings


Growing up in rodeo my entire life, I am utterly excited to have this opportunity to allow my education to not only let me learn from my passion, but also share my findings with the world. I developed this blog to give insight to my undergraduate research project challenging the misconceptions of the professional sport of rodeo.

This study will consist of defining the many fallacies of the industry, and addressing them with factual evidence provided by specialists in each area of the rodeo world. I will take video documentation of each interview and create a series of videos as well as one final DVD for educational use at Texas A&M.

My goal of this project is to widen the understanding of the sport and clear any anti-rodeo attitudes that have led to misunderstandings of the dynamics of rodeo.

I am eager to get on the road and head to my first destination tomorrow, Jasper, Texas, where I will meet with professional bullfighters Wacey Munsell and Aaron Ferguson who will tackle some of the most asked questions and address some of the preconcieved notions of their division of rodeo.

And so the story begins!

Happy Trails,