Notes from a rodeo rookie: They’re right. This thing really is legendary!

🕐 4 min read

There is truth to that well-worn expression: We’re never too old to learn. I’ve experienced that a few times in the course of my, ahem, 35 or so (emphasis on “or so”) years on this mortal coil.

For example, I’m grateful for the golf swing that keeps my shots from going into every body of water from a pond to a puddle. I’ve saved a fortune in golf balls since learning that technique.

I’m thankful for being taught that, before paying it forward in the drive-thru at Whataburger, I should glance in the mirror to see how many are in the car behind me.

And I’m glad I finally listened to others and attended my first rodeo at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. I’d visited the Stock Show portion many times, but for some reason never made my way to the rodeo.

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Honestly, I don’t know how the rodeo escaped me during my more than two decades of living in Fort Worth. It was previously held in the Will Rogers Coliseum, a place I loved going to when the Fort Worth Brahmas hockey team I covered for seven years occasionally played there. For close-up action, it didn’t get any better, other than suiting up yourself and getting on the ice for a shift or two.

Before going any further, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank FWBP Publisher Rich Connor for the box seats he gave to me and the lovely Mrs. Junell Mauch, who was also attending her first rodeo (no pun intended). As any journalist will attest, all we have to hear is the word “free” and no matter what it is, we’re in. We’d drive north of the U.S. border to claim it if you gave us a free Canadian bacon pizza.

Now the rodeo is held in the fabulous Dickies Arena, an absolutely amazing addition to the city of Fort Worth. While I had been to a press conference there and took a tour before it opened, this was the first time for me to attend an event there. The only complaint I have is the question, “What took you so long, Fort Worth?”

A day or two earlier I had written about Texas State Rep. Charlie Geren and his 45 years of riding in the Rodeo Grand Entry. Sure enough, he was there on this night as part of the wonderful festivities. What a great thing to see, I can only imagine what it must be like to be a participant.

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Speaking of participants, this rodeo features the best of the best. The ropers were speedier and more accurate at their craft than the fastest talking car salesman. The bareback and saddle bronc riders endured more bumps than the most barren Texas backroad.

One particular breakaway roper successfully completed her event in 1.9 seconds. That’s faster than it took to read that sentence. I’m pretty sure I’ve never completed a single thing in 1.9 seconds in my entire life, unless it was racing to the cooler when someone shouted there’s only one more beer.

And the calf scramble, oh my gosh, how fun it was to watch those youngsters chase those baby cows (and bulls) all over the arena. Kudos to the kiddos who caught one (and even the ones who didn’t for their effort). Once upon a time I had that kind of youthful energy, or at least that’s what someone once told me.

Thanks Charlie Geren and Marty Richter for bringing that event to the FWSSR 35 years ago.

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As for the big winners on the night, that would be the bulls in the bull riding competition. Out of the 10 riders, not a single one managed to stay on the bull for the required eight seconds, the closest hanging on for six.

Even so, those riders are my heroes for even trying. I can’t imagine any scenario in which I would get on a bull, much less one that would just as soon stomp on my head as chew on a cud of hay. These guys, however, climb on over and over, whether they last the required time or get bucked in the air higher than LeBron James flying in for a poster dunk.

The FWSSR made a triumphant return in 2022 after being canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, the rodeo was back in full form to the delight of many, myself included.

And I will be back next year, and the year after, and on and on as long as there is a rodeo – even if I have to pay.

Rick Mauch writes regularly for the Fort Worth Business Press and spearheaded our coverage of the 2022 Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

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