I was standing by the out gate of the rodeo arena waiting for the Cimarron River Stampede in Waynoka, Oklahoma to start last Saturday night. I eagerly awaited the rodeo queen to present the colors so I could snap a few photos of her. Because you know, queens no matter what they represent, are easy targets to produce a beautiful photograph.
My second rodeo accompanying my husband in two days, I knew exactly what to expect. I went to what seemed like a million rodeos and barrel races when I was actually competing and not just a spectator. The announcer revs the crowd up, pre-rodeo mutton bustin', prayer, national anthem/presenting of the colors (usually horseback) and the events tick off, one right after another with various entertainment sprinkled in between. Some where along the way there will be a loud bang or fireworks just to wake the crowd up, and subsequent horses.
As the southern Oklahoma breeze made the 100 degree temps bearable, I scanned the crowd. Bleachers were full and people were having an enjoyable time. Not really looking for them, I did spot a few wearing masks. It's as much their right as it is for everyone there to be at the rodeo on a Saturday night.
The week prior, I'd been in Dodge City at my hometown’s annual PRCA rodeo and had the same feelings I was experiencing at Waynoka. In the months leading up to it, many in my town questioned as to whether the show should go on.
Honestly I'm surprised they were able to find the event sponsors and managed to have a payout more than $400,000. It sounded like contestant numbers were up, and many of the amateur rodeos in my area have had increased entries too. I believe in my heart people want to get back to normal, and entering a rodeo is about as normal to rodeo people as it comes.
Sitting in the stands at these two events, life was almost normal. I had to consciously remember we were in the middle of a pandemic and there was a chance someone at the event was/is sick. But then I also had to stop and remind myself, people every single day get sick and unknowingly pass it along to their neighbor. Whether that neighbor be at work, school or in this case the rodeo. It doesn't have to be COVID-19, it could be the flu, the common cold or any one of a number other illnesses.
It was nice to be around other people even if it was at a distance. It was nice to see the red dirt spread out in front of me in the arena even though I wasn't racing through it. It was nice to be in Oklahoma again, even if it was only for a few hours. It was nice to feel normal again.