Years ago as I sat entranced by the glitz and sparkle of a big-city Pro Rodeo, a cattleman’s daughter was kind enough to set me straight. She pointed across the stands and said, “Okay, city girl, that guy over there with the designer jeans and the high heeled boots is what’s known as a Dude. He’s not a real cowboy.”
You can bet your boots that not a single “Dude” was in the stands at the Cibolo Livery Stables Ranch Rodeo Saturday night. While a big-city rodeo may be filled with glamorous productions and urban cowboy spectators, the small town rodeo is genuine and comfortable like a well-worn Stetson.
Keeping with time-honored traditions, thanks to God and loyalty to country were pledged with the opening ceremonies. As bona fide ranchers with sun-drenched skin and leather-worn hands prepared to grit their teeth in the dirty business of yoking, branding, doctoring, trailer loading, and stampede racing, I knew I was in for the real deal.
The excitement snapped and popped like an arc of electricity from the arena to the audience as cowboys with hats drawn down tightly moved with the agility of world-class athletes testing their intellect and strength against the demands of ranching.
Competitors in the yoking event worked in teams to lasso rebellious steer from atop their mounts and secure the bawling animals at breakneck speeds. Their toils were met with explosive whoops and hollers as if the spectators had caught the vicarious thrill of knowing that somewhere within each of us is the right stuff to “Git ‘er done.”
After all, that’s the cowboy way, isn’t it? Event after event, the cattlemen met their challenges with jaws set in a display of pioneer-styled determination that seemed to say, “I won’t back down.”
As the ranch rodeo came to a close, fans and contestants celebrated well into the night with dining and dancing in the open-air pavilion as Lucky Tubb and the Modern Day Troubadours filled the air with intricately woven sounds.
Just as generations of Bulverde ranchers before them, locals and visitors chatted about crops and livestock while reminiscing with old friends and warmly greeting newcomers, even the newspaper writer wearing city-girl duds.