Queens, riders, fancy hats

Grand National Rodeo good times at the Cow Palace

Let's get ready to rumble! Rodeo flag bearers prepare to prance.


>>See more high-steppin' photos of the Grand National Rodeo here.

RODEO Shelby Terry is a cowboy. To be more specific, he is a bucking bronco rider. Despite the fact that he was a little disappointed in the ride he had just finished at the Grand National Rodeo at Cow Palace on Friday night, he was willing to talk about the importance of the yearly event — which has been taking over the grounds for 66 years now.

"I hope they don't ever get rid of it. If they just added 10 to 20 thousand dollars to the budget they'd be able to attract the really big name riders." Then a camera was brandished and all of a sudden, the cowboy morphed into the Marlboro man.

Fact: cowboys are hot. This is one of the reasons why the half-empty stadium was a shame on Friday night at the Cow Palace. But beyond the titillation of watching intent, muscular men and women put themselves in the way of bodily harm from the hooves of a multi-ton animal, there are other reasons to make the journey down to Geneva Avenue.

For one, the glittery horses. Not since the heyday of My Little Pony have steeds been this tricked out — the horses ridden by the rodeo queens not only have silky braids and fancy saddles, but also sparkly behinds (which you can see up close and personal in the stables, where show ponies hang and you're welcome to wander during the event). There's also goat, dog, and rabbit shows, designer hat stands, beer for sale, and shooting exhibitions.

Miss Grand National Rodeo 2010, Holly Kucera won her title last year based on her appearance, horsemanship, and comportment. She's a skinny blonde with curly hair and pageant makeup who was happy to speak with the Guardian about the Grand National.

"This is just a one-after-the-other kind of thing," Kucera smiled from atop her white horse as she waited to ride out into the arena. "It's a real entertainment sport." Both Kucera and Terry mentioned, however, that the rodeo is far from its glory days, when weekend shows would be sold out and athlete entry was more competitive.

And it bears mentioning that — amidst the sparkles and snorts of humans and animals — not everyone was thrilled about the Grand National's high octane roping and slamming. A group of activists from Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (S.H.A.R.K.) stood outside in the balmy parking lot during the event, holding up "Not Fun For the Animals" and talking to passers-by about the neck-jerking cruelty of cattle roping.


Remaining dates: Fri/21-Sat/22 7:30 p.m., $23–$44

Cow Palace

2600 Geneva, Daly City



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