Although independent ranching has been on the decline in California for years, the rodeo lives on. Every year around Fourth of July, the city of Folsom, California hosts its annual Pro Rodeo. Folsom, like so many of the outline towns around Sacramento, used to be surrounded by farm and ranchland. These days its acreage is covered with upscale housing developments, primarily bought by escapees from LA and the Bay Area who can get twice the house for half the price. Still the Folsom Rodeo draws locals and people from all over who love to watch the excitement of cowboys riding bucking broncos and bulls.
Last night some friends and I watched the last part of the final day of the rodeo. The most thrilling part of course was the bull riding. I think you must truly be insane to take that up as a profession. How these boys keep from getting whiplash, let alone numerous broken ribs, I have no idea. Then there are the clowns, whose dual jobs are to entertain the crowd and to lure the bull away from the cowboy once he’s fallen off. That’s right. Bull bait. For highly annoyed 3000 pound ornery bulls with horns.
It seems to me that the rodeo is a fundamentally American institution. Home grown, not a tradition imported from Europe or someplace else – a fitting activity for the Fourth of July. Eating hotdogs, sipping lemonade, and watching cowboys hang on to their broncos and bulls with everything they’ve got.