Rodeo in Warkworth


You know rodeo. Barrel racing, bucking broncos + bulls, calf roping – all lingerings of a vanishing way of life. 
But the rodeo spirit has the visceral attraction of its sheer physicality. To be true there are  the mental scars of grave risk but a step away.  But the principal  theme is of man versus animal – animals that can be swift, fickle, graceful, cantankerous, powerful, ornery, and sometimes downright bestial.


A rodeo certainly catches your attention.

I got an education in rodeo courtesy of the show in the middle of the Summer in Warkworth ON. Now Warkworth is known for its culinary feasts – Maple Syrup Festival in Spring, LongLunch in late Summer, and The Perfect Pie Contest to offset the start of Winter mit Das Schmeckt Tarte – with Savoury  Tarts and Tasty Pies.

But Warkworth is also in farming country –  and so  a rodeo is part of the genes and make up of the countryside. And it shows with a strong turn out for both days of a two day rodeo sponsored by a hundred and one local businesses and Dodge Trucks.

Yank Wrestling at Speed

Saturday was gray and constantly threatening with the humidity hanging in the air.  Maybe that was why the calf roping was slightly off – only one roper in five was able to reel in a calf. However, when they changed to calf wrestling, then the going was much better. Stationed at the end of the ring, I could see the stampeding horse and riders – an outrider keeping the calf from straying. They come down the way very fast. And the cowboy is over in an instant wrenching the calf by the horns while digging his heels into the ring. One would think the creature would be down and out … but a couple managed to spring free. Still, one can see why a collar tackle is penalized in professional football.

Bucking as in Bronco

As you might expect,  bucking broncos and bulls are one of the most popular parts of the rodeo. The tension is palpable and you can see no one fooling around. Everybody is on the alert and scrambling for the fence if a bronco or bull gets too close. Thats where the clowns and beaters earn their pay. They distract the bronco or bull once the rider has been turfed -risky business to say the least. At the rodeo one bull rider was trampled  and had to be ambulanced away  with contorted ribs.


The Trials of Riding  Bareback

But the kids seem to be attracted. They start young by riding sheep bareback – that was amusing to see because the sheep are actually ornery and the youngster really have to hold on for dear life. For bull riding , teenagers take on younger bulls and as you can see  get a quick education in stay atop. I must admit – just getting into the cage with a bronco or bull is a knowing art.


Just Getting On Is A Knowing Art

The second half of the rodeo is pratfalls and horse tricks and tom foolery -> the clever horse that pulls off the riding blanket before his master acn hoist the saddle on. This visual trickery requires great timing by both horse and the “master” joker in the ring. It works remarkably well this evening. This is followed by barrel racing which is really the major feminine side of rodeo. But as you can see below horse and rider have to be working well together to get a good time.


Getting Around

There is a lot more to the rodeo – a small shopping faire right by with everything from food thru cowboy hats to all sort of apparel to catch your eye. But the merchant stands also feature jewelry, leather crafts, flower bulbs and plantings, even some delicious maple and chocolate fudge or advice on your crop insurance. In short, the rodeo is also a business fair as well – god knows there enough ads plastered and posted all over the ring. Yes a rodeo is like the corn dogs and pieces of pie for sale nearby – always expected, but also surprising on how filling they can be.

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