Bulls and blood, dust and mud, the damned old rodeo is back.
With half-hearted apologies to Garth Brooks, while so-called country music lyricism has devolved into what sounds all too often like a random list of things that are American, the rodeo in Santa Fe has stayed gloriously true to itself for nearly seven decades.
The annual nod to Santa Fe's agrarian history begins Wednesday afternoon as the carnival starts spinning the rides at 3 pm, with the rodeo throwing open its turnstyles to the public at 5 pm. The rodeo continues through Saturday night.
It's not as though the Rodeo de Santa Fe has been immutable throughout its history. Because of cost considerations, the rodeo abandoned its annual parade a few years ago and replaced it with the Kids Exceptional Rodeo on Saturday morning, an event that's open to the public and focuses on providing a rodeo experience for children with special needs.
"It's certainly a way to give back to the community," Rodeo de Santa Fe's Beth Gray tells SFR, adding that was also the driving force behind the parade. She says rodeo pros will be on hand to help with event, which runs for a full four hours starting at 10 am.
In addition to the standard rodeo fare of bronc- and bull-riding, calf-roping and barrel racing, this year's four-night affair features traditional Mexican charro Tomas Garcilazo, who makes tossing a lasso over a hay bale with horns look like tying your shoes. Garcilazo is renowned for his ropework, much of which takes place as he's standing atop a very patient, well-trained horse.
Every rodeo needs a clown, and the featured barrel man this year is Don "Hollywood" Yates. The somewhat understated job description often involves placing one's self behind a large barrel and goading a rather angry bull into butting the thing. A former star of American Gladiators, it's the sort of thing Yates actually enjoys.
It's unfortunately too late to enter your kid into the nightly mutton-bustin' event, which has become a fan favorite and features brave kids clinging to probably surprised sheep for six-second rides around the arena. As far as SFR is aware, there is no option for adults to ride sheep. Perhaps it's for the best.