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Angola, Louisiana prison rodeo
Angola Prison, in Louisiana, USA has been running a full – on rodeo, with the inmates as the star attractions, for over 40 years.
The rodeo started in 1965 and the first arena was built by a few dedicated inmates and prison personnel. There were no seating arrangements then. Spectators had to sit on boxes or their cars to watch the performances. Back then, the rodeo was staged for the entertainment of prisoners and employees, but it soon expanded into a fantastic commercial venture with sideshows, stalls and food vendors. By 1967 the rodeo was opened to the general public. Profits were used for prisoner rehabilitation and the building of a chapel.
This proved so successful that they built a 4,500-seat arena for the 1969 rodeo. The rodeo continued to grow in popularity and size, adding new events and gaining sponsorships. Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rules were adopted in 1972 and the rodeo was on its way.
Nowadays the Angola Prison Rodeo is a professionally produced rodeo, but the stars are still the inmates of the prison who volunteer to take part. The animals used, and the judges are provided by professional rodeo stock contractors. To provide the participants with the necessary safety measures required, professional rodeo clowns are always present in the arena and a full complement of emergency services are available to provide medical assistance for inmates and spectators.
Over the years the rodeo has grown into a hugely popular event and in 1997 the stands were expanded by 1000 seats, and construction of a roof over the seating area began to provide increased comfort. The ground size was also increased to the point where it is now no longer a tiny concession area on the side for some inmate organizations to make a few dollars, it's now an all day arts and crafts festival, complete with entertainment and food. The arts and crafts festival begins at 9 a.m. and continues throughout the day. The rodeo is staged every Sunday in October.
Construction began on the new stadium in April 2000 and seating capacity was increased to 10,000. The new stadium was completed for the first rodeo in October 2000.
Started over 40 years ago as a recreational thing by a handful of rodeo-loving inmates and employees, the rodeo is now big business.
DVD of the rodeo
Some of the very dangerous events are;
Bust Out - six chutes are opened simultaneously, releasing six huge bulls with inmate cowboys on their backs. The last man to stay on his bull wins the event.
The Wild Horse Race where six wild horses are simultaneously released into the arena with ropes trailing behind them. Three-man teams attempt to grab the ropes and hold the horse long enough for a team member to mount. The first team to get a man and horse across the finish line wins
Wild Cow Milking - Teams of inmates chase the cows around the arena trying to get some milk from them. The first team to bring milk to the judge wins the prize.
Bull Riding - Inexperienced inmates sit on top of a two ton Brahma bull which is then released into the arena. The cowboy has to stay on the bull's back for six seconds.
Convict Poker - Four inmates sit at a table in the middle of the arena playing a friendly game of poker when a wild bull is released with the sole aim of scattering the poker players. The last man to stay seated is the winner.
Guts & Glory - A poker chip is tied to the meanest and toughest Brahma bull. The inmates have to get close enough to the bull to snatch the poker chip.
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.