This Michigan transplant (now, over four years removed from the Great Lakes State) is feeling even more like an Oklahoman these days. And not just because I look damned good in a cowboy hat.
This past Saturday the wife and I took in a gun show and our first-ever rodeo. Seriously, can you get more Oklahoma than that?
The best part was going incognito to the rodeo, not as a reporter, but primarily as a fan, which also gave me a chance to do something just like other fans: Cheer.
One of the top rules of covering sports is you don’t cheer. So, over the years, a reporter can become almost immune to reacting to exciting plays other than noting them on a note pad or laptop.
This event though presented a chance to attend as a fan and do it for the outrageously reasonable sum of $5. Now, my wife will tell you that, aside from being a lovable little fuzzball, I am cheap. So, we gladly plunked down $10 at the fairgrounds arena.
It was an entertaining evening, even if we almost couldn’t find the entrance. The organizers may want to invest in a sign that is visible and well-lit. Luckily, we just followed the assorted folks in western attire to the doorway.
Once inside, it was nice to see the large turnout as most of the bleachers were well-populated.
The evening was filled with plenty of thrills and a lot of spills from those attempting to ride the bucking bulls as only a small handful of riders successfully rode for the full eight seconds. (We both were amused and impressed by the dog that helped round up the bulls – hey, remember, it was our first rodeo).
The bronc riders were impressive as well and there was even a bit of a scary moment when one of the broncos, while being corralled, lost its footing and fell, sliding under the metal barrier fence and getting its head wedged under it.
But several cowboys (wranglers?) jumped into action and worked to free the horse which, after several anxious moments, galloped back to its holding area. It was obvious the folks cared about the animal and were pros all the way.
Now, admittedly, at one time I pretty much considered cowboys to be a thing of the past. However, living here has taught us cowboys do still exist, and seemingly unfailingly, are the kind of people you would be honored to call your friends. Plus, they do wear those really cool hats.
The crowd, which was filled with some of the best-behaved young folks we have ever seen, clearly enjoyed the evening.
There were some glitches. The public address system was sub-par and most spectators could not understand the announcer nor the banter between the announcer and the rodeo clowns. There also was no printed program. So, between a lack of a program and the inability to know what was being said, we really did not have a clear understanding of the outcome of the evening’s events, other than of course everyone seemed to have a good time.
The folks at Sumner, through a Facebook reply to my wife (I still was trying to remain incognito), acknowledged the problems with the PA system and promised to have it “in perfect working order” for the next event, their Bullriding Derby Saturday at the fairgrounds, which begins at 7 p.m.
Despite the minor glitches, Sumner put on an impressive show, giving us, and several hundred other folks, plenty of reason to cheer (and wear cowboy hats).
Speaking of rodeos ... How sad it is to see the water being drained from Canton Lake, the home of the Walleye Rodeo, one of the first events I wrote about when I arrived at the News & Eagle. The recent photos in our newspaper were heartbreaking. I don’t know if the walleye will be restocked, but from the looks of things, if there are any left, they may be kicking up more dirt than the bulls at the rodeo.
Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org