Wednesday, September 28, 2022


Finding little pieces of true, old-school Americana soul

It was like jumping into a time machine set for the 1950s. While winter traveling in our RV, my husband and I learned that a county rodeo was scheduled for Saturday night. A rodeo? We’re in! We extended our stay in southwestern Florida for a bit longer. And I’m so happy we did!

Y’all come on down to the rodeo!

Florida’s south-central and central-southwest regions boast two big industries: cattle ranching and sugar cane. While “big sugar” helped sponsor the rodeo, it was definitely the livestock industry that took center stage in this annual event. Cowboys and cowgirls of all ages filed into the fairgrounds. Locals from surrounding towns came too. It was a mishmash of young and old, boots and flip flops, cowboy hats and baseball caps. Everyone different, yet all with the glint of anticipation in their eyes and the hint of a smile on their lips. “People watching at its very best,” I thought to myself.

With concession hot dogs and drinks in hand, we found some seats and settled in. The rodeo starting time came and went. The cowboy announcer came on to apologize for the technical problems and assured the crowd that things would get underway soon. A mix of country and rock music blasted from the loudspeakers for about 15 minutes while horses and their riders warmed up inside the arena.

A prayer

When the cowboy announcer came back on the microphone, he asked the crowd to stand. Then, in a slow drawl, he said, “Drop the lids and bow your heads. Listen close while prayers are said.” Every hat-wearing person in the small grandstand took off their hats and/or caps. Even little children solemnly bowed their heads, and you could have heard a pin drop. The announcer prayed a prayer of thanks to God for the beautiful weather and the big crowd. He prayed for protection for both the participants as well as the livestock. He closed with thanks again for the privilege of living in a free country and humbly requested Divine intervention for peace in our world.

The National Anthem

As the prayer ended, a beat of silence held. Then a lone rider, carrying the American flag entered the arena. The National Anthem began, and I discovered to my surprise a lump in my throat. “This…,” I thought to myself. “This is the America I love. Where God-fearing citizens proudly sing their anthem and make no apologies for living in the greatest nation on earth. Where folks of all colors, economic levels, and ages happily gather to cheer on the skills of unsung heroes—the folks who put food on our tables solely through their dedication and hard, demanding work.”

I don’t believe I’m alone in occasionally longing for the “good ol’ days”—days when our differences could be rationally discussed; times past when your personal feelings and beliefs could be vastly different but friends loved and supported you anyway; the days when patriotism was encouraged, even for our scarred and sometimes misguided country.

An evening to remember

We stayed till the end of the rodeo. We saw unbelievable horsemanship and amazing roping skills. The winning team won $1,000, which would be split among the team’s five participants. Not much pay for a hard night’s work, but delightful entertainment for everyone—especially me!

This is what I most appreciate about the RV experience. Most folks think of Florida as warm beaches and easy-living. It is that. But it’s also a lot more! RVing allows people like you and me to see beyond the travel brochures and appreciate all of the rest of what our country offers. And we can see it up close.

Do you attend local events when traveling around the country in your RV? Share your experiences with us!

Feel like going to a rodeo now? Check out the biggest rodeos in the U.S..




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Neal Davis
6 months ago

So cool that you learned of the rodeo in time to attend. Glad you had a great time and thank you for sharing how things went.

Bev Summerbell
6 months ago

This was a GREAT article. We love going to rodeos, in both big and small venues – county fairs to the NFR in Las Vegas. This writer captured the real essence of why people love rodeos! Thank you for writing it!

6 months ago

My girlfriend and I live in San Antonio, Tx and attended the rodeo here February. We were very pleasantly surprised when they started with a prayer which ended “in Jesus name” followed by the national anthem sung by a very talented young lady. It was an awesome beginning to a very good rodeo.

Joe Goomba
6 months ago

“Where God-fearing citizens proudly sing their anthem and make no apologies for living in the greatest nation on earth.”

Christ, what a load of B.S. that statement was. You don’t even have to believe in “God” to be American, and we’re not the greatest, just the pushiest.

RV Staff(@rvstaff)
6 months ago
Reply to  Joe Goomba

Why don’t you tell us what you really think, Joe? Sheesh! –Diane

6 months ago
Reply to  Joe Goomba

give it a rest Joe…some people still love this country and do fear and respect the thought of God. I can see where you hang out. This was a great article with some decent people having a good time that would not effect you since the thought attending this type of event would never occur to you, thank God.

Denny K
6 months ago

We had an identical experience in Wachula, FL this January. Had a great time.

Paul B.
6 months ago

Can’t add anything but “Amen”.

Ron T.
6 months ago

We’ve attended several rodeos during our travels. From Cody, WY to Brush, CO even one in my hometown in MO last fall that just happened to be while we were visiting there. We’ve also timed trips to attend events like the Western Legends Roundup in Kanab, UT and a very local bluegrass festival in WV. The small local events are usually more fun and the people friendlier.

6 months ago

We have lived in north Florida for 40 years and we have spent many winter days exploring the Appalachicola Forest. Last week we saw a small herd of beautiful cattle grazing in the pines . We do not know if this cattle was part of a herd of “cracker cattle”. Ponce de Leon was the first to bring horses and cattle to Florida. The Cracker horses were smaller than most horses today and the Cracker cattle very well suited to our climate. Both breeds nearly died out but a few ranchers preserved the blood lines. After the civil war Floridian ranchers rounded up these animals and bred them with other horses and cattle. Quickly Florida became the largest international exporter of agricultural products including cattle. Florida history of cattle and horses dates back to the mid 1500’s. Rodeos are a great way to celebrate our strong ranching history.

Ralph Pinney
6 months ago

Great article. Don’t forget about Cheyenne Frontier Days.

6 months ago


Stay safe, Joe

6 months ago

Any chance we can find out where this rodeo is?

6 months ago
Reply to  Donna

It was in LaBelle, FL, held in connection with the annual Swamp Cabbage Festival. This year we attended the rodeo on February 26. Hope you can make it next year!

Mike Brown
6 months ago

We enjoyed the rodeo in Arcadia in south central Florida. Same experience. Love the American traditions that seem to be lost at other activities.

6 months ago

Nice story! We winter in the Okeechobee area for many of the same reasons – we prefer the “cows” and “sugar cane” to the crowds.

Charles Howard
6 months ago
Reply to  CWP

Well, there’s a week long Rodeo in the RGV ending this weekend…
Plenty of Cow Pastures and farm fields too.
But we’re too busy dancing to all the many great Country and R&R Bands that play several times every week for entertainment and dancing all over the RGV during the Winter Texan Season. Prices range from only $7 – $10 per person – gotta love that!

6 months ago
Reply to  Charles Howard

Tempting, Charles. Maybe some day we’ll join you there!

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