So over this weekend a friend of mine announced “I’m going to shoot portraits this weekend. I don’t know who”. So with a sense of the cavalier I decided to follow his lead.

I knew the rodeo was in town (Oakdale) so I thought a trip up there would yield some good results. Every year Oakdale hosts this and has a great turn out. Oakdale also boasts the title “Cowboy Capitol of the World”

So I roll into Oakdale in my fire engine red Volvo. I’ve got Coltrane blaring out of my windows and I’ve dressed accordingly out of the G.H.Bass catalogue. I find a spot among the pick-ups to park my Swedish princess and prep for the trip in. As an aside, blending in has to be made a top priority when entering a new venue.

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I walk up to the main gate and see that Photographers are not allowed with telephoto lenses. No problem because I am going to shoot close. People shots, not so much competitors. There is a crew of photographers already assembled for the heavy lifting of covering this as a sporting event. I’m more interested in “Behind the scenes”.

I made my way through a myriad of gates and corrals and ended up at one of the event chutes. This is gold. The personality and feel of this spot is what I was looking for. This is the staging area for the roping events and bulldogging. By being up close and seeing the way everything was done, you can appreciate the efforts they take to keep the sport safe for both man and beast.

Mostly the bullriding was going on when I was able to get theses pictures. The guys in my area were enjoying what they could of the event until their number came up and were commissioned into service manning the contestants and the animals of their area.

I never realized how many judges were involved in this type of event either. Like I said, I belong to the uninitiated, but could respect the efforts of everybody there.

All in all it was very educational for me and I had a great time. Most of these people have a love of livestock and our Ag community and want to carry it on from one generation to the next. After all, a day like this is all about friends, food and fun.