For as long as America can remember, Oklahoma and rodeos have gone hand-in-hand. since the 1800s, ranch personnel often tested their skills against those from neighboring ranches, often in the form of roping and riding contests. It was friendly fun that helped build both friendships and good-natured rivalries across the west. While the sport became more popular, and monetary prizes grew, rodeos were the subject of much speculation because there was no standard way to judge a particular skill.

cowboy with horseBetween 1929 and 1965, organizations were created to standardize rules and create a point system for judging, set prize-money policies, protect the contestants’ interests and sanction events. This helped develop the common practices and standards that you see at modern-day rodeos.

For those visitors who are unfamiliar with rodeo events, we’d love to give you a short and basic lesson on the different contests!

Bronc Riding: The roots of this event are seated in the practice of, and skill development needed for breaking and training horses to use on the western ranches. Two styles of bronc riding are practiced: bareback and saddle. During their rides, cowboys/cowgirls must use only one hand to stay on their bucking mount, attempting to move with the animal to stay astride for a time of eight seconds or longer.

Bull Riding: Just like Bronc Riding, but with a much meaner animal! This is where Rodeo Clowns often come into play to distract the animal and keep an unseated rider safe from possible attacks by the angry mount.

Calf Roping: This event stems from the practice of securing a sick or injured animal for veterinary treatment. The idea is to lasso the calf, dismount and tie the calf’s legs together to effectively immobilize it. And you know ranch hands – they have always liked to brag about how quickly they can immobilize an animal… and that’s where the competition started!

Team Roping: Again, this event came about while trying to immobilize mature animals for veterinary treatment. One horseman ropes the head of the animal and then seers it so to expose the back legs to the other horseman, who then tries to rope both legs at once to bring the animal down.

Steer Wrestling: Basically, this is animal roping without the rope! A cowhand rides alongside a running animal, and the rider leans from the horse to basically tackle the steer to the ground and immobilize it. During this event, a second rider rides alongside the steer to keep it running straight (making it much safer for the wrestler to bring the steer down).

Over the years, rodeos have become a very family-friendly event, often incorporating a fair-like atmosphere, activities for kids, vendors, crafters and more.

Where can you experience this excitement here in McCurtain County? Two upcoming events in nearby Idabel let you root for the riders (or the animals, if you prefer) and enjoy the friendly fun of the accompanying activities.

Annual McCurtain County Fairboard Championship Rodeo
July 30-31 & August 1, 2015
8:00 p.m. each night at the Idabel Fairgrounds Arena (corner of Seminole Avenue and NW 9th Street)
Adults: $8.00, Children: $3.00
Admission is FREE on July 30, courtesy of the McCurtain Farm Bureau

Besides the rodeo, the event also hosts Jr. Barrel Racing, Crowning of the Rodeo King and Queen, and a Saturday night dance following the Rodeo.

McCurtain County Free Fair
McCurtain County Fair Grounds, Ninth Street NW
Idabel, Oklahoma
September 8th – 12th, 2015
Fun for the entire family: food, games, crafts, live music, children’s activities, vendors, amusements, and of course the rodeo! And as the name implies, admission is free!


Consider a stop at one of these exciting rodeo events during your southeast Oklahoma vacation at a Beavers Bend Creative Escapes property to experience the fun of a friendly event, and the excitement of rodeo competition!