What better way to spend the 4th of July than at a rootin’ tootin’ rodeo in Jackson Hole, WY? We’d be in the heart of the wild West celebrating our independence whooping it up in the stands for the true American icon—The Cowboy.
We’d watch the sunset over the Tetons from the arena, then revel in a fireworks display under the stars.
This was my plan as I went online last week to buy tickets for my family and friends for our upcoming trip. There were reserved and general admission seats available, neither none too cheap, so we opted for general admission. I’d been to the JH fairgrounds before and knew the arena wasn’t a huge venue, so I figured there really wasn’t a bad seat in the place.
I was wrong.
There is a bad seat. It’s the seat you don’t even get because you didn’t know the greedy rodeo management will keep selling general admission tickets long after room on the stands is gone. I know when you have general admission tickets it’s first come first serve, but I thought you were at least guaranteed a seat.
Apparently that’s not how it works in the Wyoming West. It’s every stinkin’ cowboy for himself and if that means you pay fifteen bucks a pop to stand smashed against a fence trying to catch a glimpse of the arena over the bobbing heads of a herd of Asian tourists who got suckered too, then tough luck Gringo!
I was ticked.
Some of the friends who were with us weren’t big rodeo fans anyway, but agreed to come because they thought a rodeo in Jackson Hole on the 4th of July just might change their opinion.
Their opinions weren’t changed. They were further ingrained. Some of them even ditched halfway through the rodeo to go for ice cream at DQ. I couldn’t blame them based on where we ended up sitting.
After wandering around a bit, we eventually did find a place where we could at least have some view of the events—under the bleachers. Yep, we parked our Wrangler rears in the dirt under the stands like street urchins trying to sneak into a free baseball game. Aside from the foot pounding when the announcer told everyone in the stands to get loud, the dirt from people’s shoes sifting through the cracks onto our heads, and the occasional dropping beer can, it wasn’t too bad.
One tiny perk was that we were right in front of the alley where the rodeo contestants rode by after their event was over, so we got to see their beautiful horses up close. As one cowboy rode by on a gorgeous paint, I heard a woman in the stands above me call out to him, “Excuse me, cowboy? Doesn’t that metal thing in the horse’s mouth hurt him?”
I saw on his face what was in his head, Dang lib animal rights radicals. He muttered under his handlebar mustache, “No ma’am. It just allows me to lead him.” He tipped his hat and rode off.
Throughout the rodeo the announcer kept calling out U.S. states to find out where everyone in the audience was from. Almost every state was represented, several countries too, and many of them raised their hands when the announcer asked if it was their first rodeo. There were lots of people from the eastern states especially. I assumed that’s where the horse advocate woman must have been from since they are often both intrigued and disgusted by our savage western ways. They’re the ones you see trying to walk up the bleachers in stilettos.
Rodeo virgins often have short attention spans and, as expected, eventually the stands started to thin. This was good for us because we could finally come out from the dregs and have some actual seats. We got to see some great barrel racing and bull riding without the obstructed view of feet. Now that we had more comfortable seats I started to ramp up my rowdy for the steer wresting and calf roping events, and the fireworks show. Suddenly, the announcer wished us all a “Wild Wyoming holiday! Drive safe and good night!”
No steers? No calves? No fireworks?
First they deprive me of a seat, then they cheat me out of events and freakin’ fireworks on the 4TH OF JULY?
Jason saw me gettin’ a knot in my knickers and explained, “Look around, Kari. Who comes to this rodeo?”
I quickly thought of the woman who was all concerned about the horse’s mouth. Jason was right. These are the kind of people who paint their dogs toenails. They’re not used to seeing poor little calves being thrown to the ground and tied up, or a burly cowboy jumping on an innocent steer’s head and wrestling him to the ground for sport. I bet the Jackson Rodeo got so sick of all the animal cruelty complaints from shell-shocked out-of-towners, they decided to eliminate the most controversial events.
It made sense. It’s one thing to watch a man get chucked around like a rag doll, or get an eye gored out by a bull for entertainment, but Bessy Cow’s sweet baby shouldn’t have to get his fuzzy hide all dusty like that. Heaven for bid, we upset the politically correct tourists so they boycott the rodeo, then there’d be enough actual seats for those of us who cheer for the humans.
We found out the fireworks were cancelled because of the fire hazard.
I understand that, but I still felt ripped off.
No seat, no steer wrestling, no calf roping, no fireworks.
I just as well have bought tickets to watch a golf tournament.
So much for the wild West.
Yippy ki yo caca.