By Kristine Fredriksson
Historian Kristine Fredriksson follows the evolution of rodeo from the diversity to Buffalo Bill's Wild West to the extravaganzas nowa days. How a standard, low-paying activity grew to become an leisure that pulls millions of spectators is a lesson in American tradition and a narrative that might entice a person who spells "western" with a capital W.
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Additional resources for American Rodeo: From Buffalo Bill to Big Business
It had already been established as a midwinter gathering place for most of the country's top contestants because of the generous purse it offered as well as the congenial atmosphere the stock-show management provided the cowboys. What came about was the idea of timekeeper M. D. Fanning. His discussions with the cowboys had revealed a desire for some form of organization that would not only raise the standards of the sport but also provide funds to take care of those who were injured while competing.
Once the cowboys, too, finally organized, they felt their strength was such that they could make heavy demands concerning judges and other arena personnel. A petition that the cowboys themselves be allowed to select officials was presented at the RAA convention in Ogden, Utah, in January, 1938. "12 However, cowboy organization did not immediately take care of the problem of judges. Quite some time was to pass before the members, as well as their leaders, would feel comfortable within the framework of their new structure.
He had to seek a means of making a living in the off-season. Why, then, did a cowboy, seasonally laid off from ranch work, not take a "regular" job? Rodeo contestants are asked the same question to this day, especially those who barely eke out a living by competing. The answer was the same then as it is now: those who choose that kind of unstructured life-style, born of the trail-driving era and nurtured by the wild-west shows, do not easily fit in a conventional occupation. Early-day cowboys were so proud of their particular work with livestock that it was beneath them to labor at anything else connected with the operation of a cattle outfit, let alone at something outside of it.
American Rodeo: From Buffalo Bill to Big Business by Kristine Fredriksson
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