Sunday 15 May 2011

Rodeo Queens

Finished May 14
Rodeo Queens: on the circuit with America's cowgirls by Joan Burbick
I put this on my reading list quite a few years ago, and finally bought a used copy to cross it off that TBR list. It was even more interesting than I thought it would be. Joan noticed that her local paper in Idaho showed all the past rodeo queens for the Lewiston Rodeo in a special annual section. She began to wonder about them and about how they looked at that time in their lives looking back.
She interviewed many rodeo queens and princesses and her book covers not just the rodeo royalty and their role over time, but also the role of rodeo itself. She includes looks at the issue of race in the history of the rodeo queen, specifically that of the role of the native women. She looks at expectations, myths, money and the interaction between the queen and the cowboy.
One of my cousins was a rodeo princess and it would be interesting to get her views on this analysis. Growing up in the west, I was aware of rodeo royalty and had been to a few fairs featuring rodeos (including the famous Calgary Stampede). This book only looks at the American rodeo and its queens, but I would think much of it would be similar here.
There is a lot of depth to Joan's research and as a university professor, she asks a lot of good questions that bring people out of their shells to discuss their experience.
It's great when a book goes beyond what you expected and gives you even more to think about.

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