By Kristine Fredriksson
Historian Kristine Fredriksson follows the evolution of rodeo from the variety to Buffalo Bill's Wild West to the extravaganzas nowa days. How a typical, low-paying activity turned an leisure that pulls hundreds of thousands of spectators is a lesson in American tradition and a narrative that might attract someone who spells "western" with a capital W.
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Additional info for American Rodeo: From Buffalo Bill to Big Business
Courtesy Everett Bowman Collection Page 33 members from the start. A fund of three hundred dollars was collected at once by passing the hat and was expected to grow to five hundred dollars before the run of the show ended. Eight committees were organized, one for each branch of rodeo,* and these were charged with working out individual plans for the entire association's approval. Announcer Abe Lefton of Los Angeles was appointed chairman. " 26 The participants made it clear that their action was not to be interpreted as a criticism of the National Western contest, which from the very first year had been a favorite of the cowboys.
The importance of today's rodeo official or judge is emphasized in the PRCA rule book: The decision of the judges will be final and may not subsequently be overturned by action of the PRCA, its officers or directors, or any other party. 16 Page 29 Considering the problems confronting rodeo in the 1930s, the formation of the Rodeo Association of America was an auspicious first step in the effort to come to terms with them. The cowboy himself still had no organization to speak for him at that time, however.
If all he could get out of rodeo was what he considered a good time, that was what he was going to have. In spite of all the factors working against himself-generated and othershe was determined to make himself a permanent fixture, thereby defying those who predicted the waning of his existence. As a consequence, the economic situation of the rodeo contestant was an extremely precarious one. If he was lucky enough to join a wild-west show, his position might be more secure. Even so, there seemed to exist in him a penchant for reckless divertissements, something for which rodeo cowboys are noted, as they are for their ingenuity in devising such amusements.
American Rodeo: From Buffalo Bill to Big Business by Kristine Fredriksson