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Angola Prison Rodeo
19 Dec 2013
Published To
Description

The Angola Rodeo, the longest running prison rodeo in the nation, got its start in 1965. It wasn't much in those days, and the rodeo was staged just for the entertainment of prisoners and employees. But it was fun.

The 1967 rodeo was opened to the general public on a limited basis. Spectators had to sit on apple crates and the hoods of their cars to watch the performances. The success of the 1967 and 1968 rodeos prompted construction of a 4,500-seat arena for the 1969 rodeo.  A near disaster occurred when the bleachers collapsed during one of the shows.  Spectators weren't alarmed; most didn't even get up.  They sat on the collapsed structure and continued to watch.  The 1971 rodeo was the wettest in history, but the show went on.

The official Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rules were adopted in 1972 and the rodeo became a permanent fixture. The Angola Prison Rodeo is a professionally produced rodeo. Angola contracts with professional rodeo stock contractors to provide the rodeo stock used in events; professional judges are contracted with to objectively judge each event. In addition, to ensure inmate participant safety, professional rodeo clowns are always present in the arena during events. A full complement of emergency services personnel are on-site to provide medical assistance to inmates and spectators.

There is also an all-day arts and crafts festival, complete with entertainment and food galore.  The arts and crafts festival begins at 9 a.m. and continues throughout the rodeo which begins at 2 p.m. each Sunday in October.  Many fans come to the rodeo for the arts and crafts show alone.

What began 40 years ago as a "fun" thing by a handful of rodeo-loving inmates and employees is now big business.  Proceeds from the Angola Prison Rodeo cover rodeo expenses and supplement the Louisiana State Penitentiary Inmate Welfare Fund which provides for inmate educational and recreational supplies. 

 

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This event is featured on the Year of the Rural Arts Calendar of Events. For more information on the Year of the Rural Arts, visit www.artoftherural.org

Tags
Craft Visual Art Challenges Community Justice Recovery Festival/Celebration Southeast African American Craftsperson Visual Artist Angola Louisianna Prison Rodeo Rural YORA
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