“This ain’t your daddy’s rodeo,” says Tommy Joe Lucia, vice president of events and production for the World’s Toughest Rodeo.
Along with 3 million pounds of dirt, 60,000 pounds of corral (gates and fences) and more than 60 head of livestock, a team of cowboys bucks into Quicken Loans Arena Feb. 24.
A centuries-old tradition, rodeo started when cowboys from different ranches competed against each other. It grew to include three specialties: bull riding, saddle bronc and bareback riding. (Saddle bronc and bareback riding take place on feisty horses.) Look for these classic rodeo activities at The Q, but also watch for a new twist — the Toughest Cowboy competition, which pits eight of the world’s best cowboys in all three specialties. They’ve been touring the country, competing for hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money, belt buckles and a national title.
“Agility and balance is what comes natural to great cowboys,” Lucia says. “You’ve got an animal that’s turning and spinning 25 miles an hour, and the cowboy has to find that sweet spot so that centrifugal force doesn’t grab him and throw him in the dirt and a 2,000-pound animal steps on him.”
The Cleveland rodeo, which will be nationally televised on Fox Sports Net later in the year, is the “playoffs” of the Toughest Cowboy competition — only four wranglers will proceed to Buffalo to compete for the title.
Rodeo fans and urban cowboys alike will enjoy this rodeo with its pyrotechnics, lighting and music (and not just country) from the ’60s to the ’90s, Lucia promises. Even “the new, younger extreme-sport fans will be able to gravitate to it,” he says.— TW