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.
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!
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