Rodeo in America

Wranglers, Roughstock, and Paydirt

Wayne S. Wooden and Gavin Ehringer

Rodeo in America celebrates a great national pastime and tradition. Taking the reader "behind the chutes," Wayne Wooden and Gavin Ehringer reveal the essential character of rodeo culture today and show why it retains such a strong hold on the American imagination.

As the authors detail, contemporary rodeo has evolved into a much publicized big-time phenomenon even as it strives to stay close to its fundamental cowboy roots. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) now sanctions 750 to 800 annual rodeos worth more than $22 million in prize money, attended by nearly 20 million spectators, and watched by millions more on ESPN and TNN. The National Finals Rodeo (NFR) alone offers more than $2 million in prize money and is attended by 170,000 spectators every December in Las Vegas.

“Woven throughout is an accurate portrayal of the occupational folk culture of rodeo cowboys and the mythic significance of these modern-day purveyors of the cowboy code.

—Montana The Magazine of Western History

“If you want to buy one easy-to-read and entertainingly written book about rodeo, this is the one to get.

—Cowboy Magazine
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Filled with telling anecdotes and insightful observations, the authors highlight rodeo's glamour and glory, hazards and hardships, while clarifying its many dimensions as sport, profession, business, community event, family tradition, and pop cultural icon. Bareback and bull riders, calf ropers and steer wrestlers, barrel racers and saddle bronc busters, bullfighters and arena clowns, stock breeders and local organizers, judges and journalists, the famous and aspiring, winners and losers—all are given their due in a work that reflects the enormous allure and demands of rodeo life.

Based on research and interviews conducted at the National Finals, as well as at rodeos large and small in San Francisco, Denver, Houston, Cheyenne, Calgary, Dodge City, Pendleton, and Prescott, among many others, Rodeo in America provides an entertaining and highly readable guide for aficionados and novices alike.

About the Author

Wayne S. Wooden is professor of sociology and coordinator of the Criminal Justice and Corrections Program at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He is the author of Return to Paradise and Renegade Kids, Suburban Outlaws and coauthor of Children and Arson and Men Behind Bars.##Gavin Ehringer is a freelance journalist and former media assistant at the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. He has published more than 500 articles in journals such as Prorodeo Sports News, Western Horseman, American Cowboy, New Country, and Cowboys and Country.