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Greenhorn guidebook for celebrating rodeo
rodeo pic1
Oakdale native Bo Bacigalupi is gearing up for the annual Oakdale Rodeo set for today and Sunday. Bacigalupi competes in both bull riding and team roping. He competes in rodeos nationwide including Colorado, Alabama, Louisiana and Oklahoma. - photo by Photo Contributed


WHAT: 64th Annual Oakdale Rodeo

WHEN: 1:30 p.m. today and Sunday; 9 a.m. today annual rodeo parade

WHERE: E. F Street (Hwy 120), in Oakdale, about one and half miles east of the Yosemite and F Street intersection

TICKETS: $20 for adults, $10 for children 6-12, free for children under 6


With the 64th Annual Oakdale Rodeo going on this weekend, you don’t want to miss out on all the fun. Whether you’re a seasoned spectator or a “greenhorn” on the rodeo circuit, you’ll want to know what to keep your eye on and how to follow all the action in the arena.

After you put on your plaid shirt, the blue Wranglers that still remain rigid after all the washings, choose between your cowboy hat or John Deere ball cap with the curved bill, and pull on your ropers or western boots, grab yourself a cowgirl, cowboy or even a buckle bunny and load into the pick-up for a drive to the “Cowboy Capital of the World” rodeo grounds on East F Street in Oakdale.

Modern rodeos take place in a fenced, dirt surfaced area known as an arena. Surprisingly there are no standard sizes for arenas, but all of them contain bucking “chutes” and roping “chutes” – the area where the bucking bulls and broncs come out.

I am told that if you’re going to watch a rodeo, that the closer you are to the arena the better. The dirt kicking up, the yells from the participants, the smells of the animals (and some of the “riper” contestants) add to an overall sensory experience. Of course, in those years when April rains reduce the arena to what looks more like a mud wrestling pit, you can get a face full of splattered mud to mark the occasion.

Like any sporting event, you should try to get a seat close to the center. It’s always best to sit where you are facing the chutes. Many that follow the sport regard the seats above the chutes as the best in the house. From these seats not only do you get a close up view of the events, but you also get to watch the cowboys as they prepare to ride.

The rodeo will start each day, Saturday and Sunday, with a “Grand Entry” at 1:30 p.m.

Mounted riders, many carrying flags including the American flag, the California flag, and banners representing sponsors, enter the arena, circle once at a gallop, come to the center of the arena and stop while the remaining participants enter. The grand entry is used to introduce some of the competitors, officials, and sponsors. It is ended with the presentation of the American flag and the National Anthem.

The Oakdale Rodeo has the standard set of events that are divided into two categories; those which are scored by a judge – the “rough stock” events of bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding, and bull riding; and those which are timed for speed – cowgirls barrel racing, steer wrestling, and the roping contests.

The smooth-talking rodeo announcers are well-known voices of the rodeo circuit. Some of them are just as famous as the top cowboys and cowgirls participating in the event. The announcers take charge of the show and convey to the audience the happenings in the arena. Specialty acts, the bullfighters that keep the bull riders safe after their ride ends and the rodeo clown add to the overall show. In addition, announcers keep the crowd entertained between events, advertise the sponsors, explain the events, and support the many riders with calls for applause.

Jody Carper is this year’s announcer. As a former PRCA roper, he draws on his past experiences as a contestant allowing him to give fans a unique and entertaining behind-the-scenes view of the sport of rodeo.

During the rodeo, see if you can catch some of the traditional rider superstitions. Observe that the cowboys won’t wear yellow; it’s a sign of cowardice. Other superstitions include always shaving before an event, wearing different colored socks, and never kicking empty cups.

The day at the arena will be filled with excitement and fun that should keep you wanting to come back year after year.