Already in full swing, Tucson’s annual Rodeo is stirring up the dust. With its opening day this past Saturday, the nine-day La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, “Celebration of the Cowboys,” is rounding up cowboys and cowgirls donned in their leather boots and dusty flannels, cheering on professional bull riding and barrel racing.
In timed events, steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping and barrel racing, cowboys and cowgirls compete against the clock, as well as against each other. A contestant's goal is to post the fastest time in his or her event. In steer wrestling and the roping events, calves and steers are allowed a head start (only fair). The competitor, on horseback, starts in a three-sided fenced area called a box. The fourth side opens into the arena. Most of the time, the calves and the steer are the real winners as they are tough to catch.
Boys and girls ages 4-6 gear up with protective vests and helmets and test their riding skills on sheep. The key to success is to hang on!