City girl goes country

I’ve lived on a quiet street in a small town for the past 15 years.  That means school, church and groceries have always been within walking distance.  It also means there’s hardly a country bone in my body.

I’ve been to my share of county fairs at the suggestion of my dad growing up, but that’s about it.  So when my significant other suggested we go to a rodeo in Tionesta, Pa., Friday night, I tagged along with no expectations.

The ride over there was accompanied by Trace Atkins singing “them’s fighting words” in the background and I already knew there was no way I was going to take it seriously.   I actually made fun of it enough for Jason to turn off the radio.

The venue, Flying W. Ranch, was littered with trucks in the surrounding fields.  The crowd was intimidating until we were part of it.

We followed the campers with competitors’ horses snacking and campers watching the people move like sheep toward the main event.  There was so much flannel.

Once we bought tickets and moved toward the bleacher seating, a security guard asked to check my bag and unfold the extra shirt I brought.  I didn’t think twice of it.

It surprised Jason and he wondered at it before we picked seats right next to the stalls where the horses and steers waited.  I told him that they were probably freaked out after the stories of shootings going on in the news lately.  The atmosphere was reminiscent of a concert so it didn’t faze me.

I ended up treating the whole night like a concert.  Before the sun went down, I made a point to people watch, especially regarding attire.  Like I said before – there was a lot of flannel.

There were also cowboy hats — surprising to see at night — bejeweled belt buckles and a group of presumably underage boys sporting Jack Daniels bandanas.  The rodeo clown made a point to comment on that fashion statement.

Our seats were good as far as I was concerned because they were set off from the crowd.  Once the events started, I had a hard time understanding the scoring process.

After the host, a loud man on a red horse wearing glittery chaps, got through the introduction and tributes read from a script, I knew I was going to have to make fun of everything.  Truth be told, I did enjoy myself.

We could see the bareback riders nod “yes” during their spiels from the host so the men inside the ring would open the gate.  It was a quiet thing that I thought you only saw in the movies.

After that, there was steer wrestling, bull riding, barrel racing and whatever else I watched.  The steer wrestling didn’t sound exciting until the announcer started talking up a rodeo vet who had done this event for 36 years.

I watched him get up short of breath after scoring better than some of his younger competitors, but he looked happy to be there.

Turns out he was 77 years old.  I looked at Jason in disbelief and told him my chemistry professor is retiring this year at 77.

Later, during the intermission, he ended up walking behind us and he had a strong walk for his age. He was my favorite contestant.

My favorite event was probably barrel racing.  Unlike the other events, it was easy to follow.  “Beautiful cowgirls,” as the host called them, rode around a triangle arrangement of feed barrels and whoever had the best time won.  I found myself watching the clock and getting into it.

It didn’t look as dangerous as some of the other events that were exclusively male.  It didn’t look easy either, though.

My only complaint from the night’s events was the music selection at the rodeo.  There was no rhyme or reason to it.  I assumed they would just play country all night, but I was wrong.

There were snippets of everything from Lady Gaga’s “Pokerface” to Sublime’s “What I Got.”  While I sang along with both, I wish they would have picked a genre.  If anything, it was funny to see grown men falling off a horse to the tune of “Uptown Funk.”

Although, I don’t think I fit in any better with country folk, I’m glad I spent Friday night with Jason.  It goes to show that you enjoy yourself as much as you allow yourself to.

Well, that, and cowboy-style kettle corn never hurts.


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