Sunday, July 20, 2008

Norwood Rodeo: the Show

The stands weren't exactly packed-- maybe the colored lights of the carnival next door were too much competition. Or maybe not, since at least half the audience was under 25 and looking bored. There were a lot of white teenage mothers with babies --"we won't have no sex ed in our school."

The snack bar seemed to be the thing, though the food choices were snow cones, chips and hot dogs. Snow cones seemed to be the snack of choice. Oh, and Budweiser beer.

The rodeo gets huge support from the local merchants, and cowgirls galloped around carrying banners for boosters like Peaks Real Estate and Bruin Waste Management. After each event a cowgirl would gallop around once more with the appropriate sponsor's flag. They had decent cash prizes for each event: $1300.

But rising gas prices are hard on rodeos: it costs a lot to travel hundreds of miles from rodeo to rodeo, with a big pickup pulling a horse trailer. So the competition this year was mostly local and definitely not professional. In many of the events there would only be one cowboy or roping team who even had a qualifying ride. They'd either fall off too soon or not get the rope around the running calf. When they fell off their bucking mounts they looked more dazed than the pros ever do.

The barrel racing was the most fun to watch, with women running their quarter horses as fast as possible around three barrels, without knocking them over, then dashing for home. I wish I'd had a chance to do this when I was younger. It must be a blast. Some of the barrel racing ponies look so excited as they enter the ring that their riders can barely control them.

Creepiest honor definitely went to the rodeo clown. If you've been to a rodeo, you know that the rodeo clown is a dangerous job. The clown is there to distract any bucking horse or bull after the rider comes off, and the clownoften has to run for his own life while wearing a ridiculous outfit.

They also are given way too much time to fill with unfunny clown antics and voiceover by the baritone announcer. Example: an extended gag about a booby trap that turned out to be a bra.

During one of the events this clown came up in the stands looking for young children to volunteer for his halftime act. Up close he looked even creepier. About thirty children ran off after him. Some of their parents began to look a little bewildered when they still weren't back after fifteen minutes.

Then the act began.

It was a gunslinger act, using broomsticks, fingers, and looud sound effects.

The clown called up the children one at a time. They stepped a certain number of paces apart, and then pretended to draw guns, with a loud pow each time, resulting in the child falling on its back playing dead on the ground. Then the clown's subclown, his backup used in the bull riding event,would haul the child off to the side. As more children were "shot", they were piled on top of one another.

It got worse. There was still a big group of kids waiting behind the main clown, waiting for their turn at gunslinging. But there were too many of them. So then the two clowns pretended to shoot all the kids at once, and they all fell over and lay on the ground.

Let's see, this is Norwood, Colorado.

Um, wasn't Columbine in Colorado?

It was unbelievably creepy. And no one seemed to be bothered by it but us.

(it was an evening even this year so the pictures are a little dark.)


Linda said...

The kids shooting kids, and clowns shooting kids-- really disturbing.

Namowal said...

When you said it was a gunslinger act I immediately thought Oh no, he's gonna "shoot" the kids. Har dee har har.
The "we don't have sex ed in our shool" comment was funny.

Anonymous said...

I've heard that clowns are tragic characters, but isn't this overdoing it, spreading the tragedy around. Were the kids giggling in the rodeo dust as they played dead? All the sponsors names surrounding the pretend corpses of kids. Hmmmm. Yes, weird America is still out there. Or was the gunslinging intermission a Second Amendment celebration? I keep re-reading the post in disbelief.

Sally said...

I think there's such a standard for unfunny rodeo clown acts that people barely notice what's going on.

Mean Jean said...

Well. Shooting children is so far from funny I can't even begin to know what the sam-hill whoever was in charge was thinking. I'm nonplussed. Horrified in fact. Pretty damn-near outraged. Ugh.

Sally said...

Mean Jean, I completely agree. And I'm sure this clown has toured all the smaller rodeos with this same awful act. It's not like they do improv.

Anonymous said...

lighten up!

Anonymous said...

actually the kids had fun

so do you go to these events and places on the Western Slope so that you can make fun of them?