With Independence Day and Pioneer Day this month, it’s rodeo season in Idaho. A 105-year-old tradition appeared in Rexburg again Friday and Saturday, June 29 and 30, with the Whoopee Days Rodeo on the Madison County Fairgrounds.
Black horses pranced across the field. Each rider carried the star-spangled banner. Two young ladies in matching red, white and blue uniforms entered on two horses, standing with one foot on each. These were the Americanas, a group of riders who represent Rexburg all over the country in patriotic parades.
They were formed by Mel Griffeth, a previous Ricks College professor who retired in 2002 but never stopped supporting rodeo shows. He and his wife, Rama Drury Griffeth, rode in a large horse-drawn carriage, waving at the audience as they were introduced by the announcer.
Children climbed up the fence to watch as the rodeo opened up with mutton busting, where children volunteered to ride a sheep for as long as they could while it ran across the field. Two of the children came up riding backward, with their legs around the neck of the sheep and their arms holding onto its body. Each was eventually thrown off and rewarded with a hug and a dollar.
The show continued into the night with bucking horses, cattle wrangling, steer wrestling and bull riding.
According to their website, the Whoopie Girls are the goodwill ambassadors for Ogden Pioneer Days. Their coordinator and coach, Samantha Golder, said it helps prepare them for the workforce.
“They learn massive public speaking skills,” Golder said. “They learn interview skills. They learn to handle people. They just learn a lot of those soft skills that employers expect you to already know.”
Several rodeos will be showing near BYU-I this month, including the Pioneer Days Rodeo on July 20 and 21 at the Fremont County Fairgrounds.