A good friend who knows I’m always looking for new and exciting events to photograph, sent me information on a 2 day rodeo happening at the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Belleville, MI. RodeoFest was being presented by the Michigan chapter of the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) and the event lineup looked like any other rodeo as far as I could tell. Yes, as my husband laughingly pointed out, this WAS my first rodeo.
After getting in touch with the event coordinators (who were fantastic to deal with), and securing a photography pass so I could get some up close and personal shots, I prepped all my gear and headed out.
The day looked overcast as we rolled in – but the haze quickly burned off and it turned HOT.
The rodeo was held at the Wayne County Fairground and admission was just $15.
Food was sold via a ticket system – and at very reasonable prices. Fresh grilled hot dogs, hamburgers, and corn on the cob along with chips, soda, and alcholic drinks were all available.
There was also a small lineup of merchant booths – with everything from dip mix to “toys” being sold. Not in the same booth thankfully.
With my press credentials and pass secured (and waiver signed) I was able to head into the paddock area and check out some of the animals and the rodeo arena where the action was going to take place.
There was plenty of seating (already filling up!) both in the open and some under shade.
Everyone was very friendly (even when checking my pass to make sure I was where I should be) and obviously having a great time even with the heat.
I saw this cowboy practicing his roping moves:
Every so many contestants and in between events, they had to rake the area to keep it even and prevent the animals or human participants getting injured.
So – basically – a Rodeo Zamboni
The Grand Entry kicked things off with a parade introducing MIGRA Royalty, dignitaries and the Grand Marshal.
A very moving ceremony for a lost loved one.
A mounted presentation of the U.S., Canadian, and Michigan Flag.
Finally – let the games begin!
Calf roping (on foot)
Go get your rope!
Then chute dogging
First you have to get them across the line…
then get them on the ground…
sometimes they drag you…
sometimes they dog you…
sometimes you just gotta hold on for the ride…