The Rodeo

by Dirk Moeller

When I saw that there will be a rodeo "nearby" on Labor Day weekend, I knew instantly I want to go. I've never been before and my knowledge of the whole thing was down to a couple of Episodes of "Beyond the Bull" - a reality TV series. And this was the second largest rodeo in the world! (which probably means, like so often with american sports, the USA and maybe Canada).

We figured it would be ok to arrive there in the afternoon - unfortunately that was a mistake. The rodeo started at 11am and when we arrived we had trouble finding a parking lot that wasn't full. Finally we made it to the ticket office, only to be told that the rodeo will be on for another 45 minutes and then back at 8 in the evening for the "Xtreme Bulls" finals, which would be virtually sold out.

Since rodeo tickets would grant us access to the Kittitas County Fair as well, we went for it anyway. Cheap seats and the longest lens being 75mm resulted in these photos.

This was the first event we watched and it was interesting to say the least. The cow was released from the gates in the back of the photo, then the rider tried to lasso it, jumped down and wrangled it down, while a second guy came in to milk the cow and then run to the announcer to present the milk in the jar. All had to be done under 60 seconds. While a lot of them failed at lassoing the cow, one actually did it on sound of the 60 second bell. Impressive.

Milk run.

The next event was a barrel run, where the (female) rider had to circle around three barrels as fast as possible - and whoa, were they fast!

Barrel run.

Barrel run.

Then the bull riding was up - impressive bulls, not so impressive performance by the bull riders, which was understandable, given the fact that they had the biggest event of the year in the evening with $ 75,000 at stake.

Shortly after some very short bull rides the rodeo was officially over. On we went to have a look at the attractions. It was interesting to see that the bulls were totally cool and chilling behind the scenes.

That's a lot of muscles.

Bull enthusiasts. 

But not only the cattle was on display - so were the rodeo princesses, which handed out autographs to people interested in autographs from rodeo princesses.

Hardly a queue.

On to the County Fair - which is a mixture of carnival, food stands and livestock exhibition. I wanted to see the exhibited pigs but couldn't, because they were judged at that time. 

I ate a pulled pork sandwich (which wasn't great but overpriced) and we walked around and took the vibe in. It was an interesting glance into a part of american life.

It's a huge event for the whole community and it is great to see that pretty much everyone in Ellensburg was working to make it a great one, too!


Here they queued - tickets for the rides.

Where else can you reach most of your target group with minimal effort?

Quote: "Thanks to some great scheduling here today you now hear an a-capella group immediately after you heard another one."

The next time I would try to get good seats for the "Xtreme Bull" event and probably skip the fair. But I would go again :)

All shots are Sony A7r with 28-70 kit lens or Leica Elmarit-R 2.8/24.