Many people work to produce even a single performance of a rodeo. While spectators may be aware of the contestants, announcer, and clowns and bullfighters, numerous other jobs behind the scenes must be filled for the show to go on.
A rodeo committee organizes the event and supplies the added purse for the contestant; the committee also hires the stock contractor and some of the contract personnel. Many committee members volunteer their time as labor to produce a rodeo performance.
The stock contractor supplies all the animals used in the rodeo. Most contractors raise their bucking stock, the bulls and horses used in bull riding, saddle bronc riding and bareback bronc riding. Cattle used for the timed event competitions are sometimes subleased from another owner.
At the largest rodeos, a contractor will often lease bucking animals from other contractors as well, so there can be many of the top bucking animals from that area at that particular event.
For many rodeos, the stock contractor is responsible to hire the other contract personnel needed for the production of the rodeo such as the rodeo secretary, timers, and labor for caring for the animals and loading animals during each rodeo performance.
The announcer is responsible to educate the spectators about what is happening within the arena during the rodeo performance. He explains the rules of each particular event within the rodeo and announces the scores and times following each contestant's competition. The announcer is there to entertain the crowd during the low moments of the performance.
Announcers are generally hired by the committee. The announcer is also expected to handle sponsor advertising and inform the spectators of other events held in conjunction with the rodeo.
Judges have the challenging task of officiating all contests held within the rodeo. Most associations, including the nation's largest, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, require potential judges to complete a seminar of training and pass tests of knowledge of the association's rules.
The judges mark the rough stock events on a scale of 50 possible points; up to 25 is given to the animal for its bucking ability and up to 25 for the rider's performance on that animal. Each ride is marked by two judges, making for a possible 100 total points for each ride.
In the timed events, judges must signal with a flag when a run has been completed according to the rules, so that the timers will stop the clock. Split-second decision-making is critical to effective flagging.
The rodeo secretary keeps track of all the official scores and times for each of the events within the rodeo. She works in conjunction with the judges to keep track of the animals used within the rodeo and records the draw of cattle to individual contestants.
He also collects entry fees from each contestant and calculates the rodeo's total purse based on the addition of those entry fees to the added money from the committee. Using scales set forth in the rulebooks, the secretary determines how many places will be paid in each event. He then figures event results and writes the prize money checks to each contestant.
At the conclusion of the rodeo, the secretary must mail the official results to the association's headquarters so that official championship points can be awarded to the winning contestants.
In general, each rodeo will use two pick-up men, often hired by the stock contractor. The pick-up men serve several purposes throughout the course of the rodeo. First and foremost, they must ride in at the conclusion of each eight-second ride in the bucking horse events and help the cowboy dismount the horse. They are "picking up" the cowboys, which is where the name originated.
Pick-up men also work to keep the arena clear during competition. They herd each bucking animal out of the arena following the competition and often help out in the same capacity during the timed events as well.
Safety is another key job of the pick-up men. Should a rider become hung up on a bucking animal, the pick-up men can rope the animal to contain its movement until the rider can free himself. In the rare case that an animal may escape the arena, the pick-up men are responsible to corral that animal and return him to the stock pens.
Clowns and Bullfighters
Rodeo clowns provide entertainment in between rodeo events by performing comedic skits and telling jokes. The clown also serves as the barrel man during the bull-riding competition. He waits in the clown barrel and is the back up for the bullfighters.
Bullfighters provide protection for the cowboys in the bull riding. Once the rider dismounts the bull or is thrown, the bullfighters move in to distract the bull away from the rider. Bullfighters will even take a hit from the bull to save the cowboy.
- Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association: 2010 Rulebook
- Women's Pro Rodeo Association: 2010 Rulebook
- Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association: 2010 Judges Handbook
- Professional Bull Riders: Bull Riding Dictionary
- Photo Credit rodeo bulls image by Clarence Alford from Fotolia.com
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