Anyone who’s ever attended a rodeo knows to expect seeing some of their favorite events, including barrel racing, calf roping, bronc riding, and of course the all-time favorite bull riding.
The International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) rodeo circuit includes all of those events and a few unique extras. The IGRA was founded in the late 1970s as a fundraiser for those who were affected by HIV/AIDS and could not openly compete in their local hometown traditional rodeos. Along with being a fundraiser for charity, several rodeo events were added for those that have a desire to compete, but don’t know how to or those who don’t want to know how to ride a horse.
These three events are labeled as the camp events in the IGRA rodeo circuit and are also some of the crowd favorites. The three events are goat dressing, steer decorating and the wild drag race. Here is a short description of each one:
Goat dressing – This two-person event was created especially for gay rodeo. The team stands 50 feet from the point where the goat is tethered. One of the team members has a pair of jockey-style underwear worn over their forearms. When the whistle sounds, the team runs to the goat. The team member without the underwear picks up the goat’s rear hooves, grabs the underwear from around the other member’s arms, and pulls it up the legs of the goat. Both team members must then race back to the start/finish line and cross the finish line to stop the time. The underwear must stay over the goat’s tail bone until the timer is tagged by both members.
Steer decorating – This event requires a two-person team. One member stands ten feet from the chute gate holding the end of a 25-foot rope, which is looped around the steer’s horns. The other team member stands 40 feet from the chute and has a 24-inch long ribbon. When the chute gate opens, the team must bring the steer out and across the ten-foot line. One team member tries to tie the ribbon on the steer’s tail while the other team member tries to remove the rope from the steer’s horns. When the ribbon is on the tail and the loop is off the horns, the ribbon-tier must tag the timer.
The Wild Drag Race is an audience favorite all across the IGRA rodeo circuit. It’s not just a joke: the competition is serious and the payoff sizable. The drag costumes come from “Goodwill” stores, from second-hand stores, and many from raiding mom’s closet. A team is made up of one male, one female, one “drag” (either male or female), and one wild steer. The steer, with a halter and a 25-foot lead rope, is in a bucking chute at the beginning of the event. The cowgirl holds the rope and the cowboy and drag stand 40 feet from the chute. When the chute gate opens, the team tries to direct the steer toward the finish line, which is 70 feet from the chute. They must get the steer across the finish line, mount the “drag,” and then ride back across the finish line. The “drag” must be mounted on the steer before the steer starts back across the finish line and must stay on the steer until all four feet of the steer have crossed back across the finish line. Sounds easy, but the “drag” may get bucked off several times before the event is ever completed!
If any of this sounds like fun, the Keystone State Charity Rodeo is holding a rodeo school to teach people how to compete in the events as part of their rodeo weekend. The Keystone State Charity Rodeo weekend takes place June 22nd to 24th at Diamond 7 Arena in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania. For more info on this and other happenings, it’s Ksgra.org.
Adam Romanik is the owner of Computer Solutions for Less, an IT consulting business. Adam has over 15 years experience working in the both the IT industry and libraries and has worked as an adjunct instructor at several educational institutions. Adam earned both a Bachelors & Masters degree in Library Science from Clarion University, has earned 24 graduate credits towards a second masters degree in Information Systems and is an MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer).
Adam Romanik is also the president and founder of the Keystone State Gay Rodeo Association. He actively competes both on the International Gay Rodeo Association Circuit as well as locally in the mid-atlantic region.