Some might think of summer pastimes as grilling, fishing, and enjoying a day on the lake. But for Vicksburg resident and rodeo spectator Tim Hardy, summer is all about horses, bulls, and rodeo clowns.
Tim’s love for the rodeo started in the early 90s, upon going to his first rodeo in Sparta, Michigan. While camping out at the weekend events, Tim enjoys the gathering of the spectators, competitors, and animals that the rodeo brings to town.
“[It’s] just the whole rodeo atmosphere, camping, going to the show, cooking good food, and doing it all over again the next day,” Tim says. The rodeos he attends are two-day weekend rodeos all over Southwest Michigan. The events consist of barrel racing, bareback and saddle bronco riding, team roping and bull riding. Spectators from all around come out to enjoy the shows and festivities, and Tim says attendance can reach into the thousands, depending how big the rodeo is.
The camaraderie at the rodeos brings Tim back every year. He says the rodeo community is very close, a slice of “real Americana, and that each venue has its own character. Whether the rodeo is in Sparta, Charlotte, or the St. Joe County Fair, each one has a different vibe and a distinct atmosphere.
Tim is not the only one who comes out to the events. The rodeo has become a summer family tradition, with his brothers, Tom and Toby Hardy, and a group of close friends attending to watch rodeos, as well. At times, the bunch has even participated in the rodeo, in the event known as Wild Cow Milking. Open to the public, the wild cow milking competition is comprised of three-man teams roping and corralling small cows, and then milking them as fast as possible. All the competitors are out at the same time that the cows are let loose, which makes the event a chaotic, exciting, and possibly dangerous, experience.
“You get a rope and a bucket; that’s pretty much it,” says Tim, “They let out about eight or ten cows. My brother and a good friend of mine have done it for a couple years. I have a picture of my brother being dragged across the arena. That was just a hilarious deal.”
While Tim enjoys the comical antics, the most entertaining aspect is the courage and talent the riders must have to perform in these events.
“Bronco riders are very skilled, the bull riders are just plain nuts, and the girls that do barrel racing put in a lot of time and effort,” he says.
The rodeo season will extend through the fall. Tim encourages anyone who has the chance, to come by and check out a local rodeo. A show usually costs around $20 dollars and shows can be found somewhere every weekend.
“Just get out there. It’s cheap entertainment, you’ll get your money’s worth, and it’s great for the kids!”