The calendar has turned to August, and the dog days are fast upon us in the Treasure Valley. The days are slightly shortening, the fairgrounds are well-trodden, and rodeo season is making a whole lot of beautiful noise. August also means the PRCA season is heating up, and in these parts, it means it’s time to turn our gaze to the seat of Canyon County for the Caldwell Night Rodeo!
This isn’t a new phenomenon, so I’m probably not giving you any new information here. In fact, people have been gearing up for this event for 79 years now, and when Caldwell Night Rodeo fans get ready, they do it in a big way! Why not, though? If you’d been doing something this well for nearly eight decades, wouldn’t you?
It is fairly well known, but not well enough appreciated that this rodeo almost stopped existing at points in the past. The tagline, “Where The Cowboys Are The Stars” is not just something that CNR throws around lightly, but they are proud of this commitment to the sport itself, and truly hang their hat on it. Longtime attendees remember how the “extracurricular” events such as concerts and appearances became the focal point for a time, and it required substantial effort just to save the rodeo itself for future (now current) generations.
This particular rodeo understands the importance of preserving the tradition of rodeo, and passing along its skills and value to young people. Not only has CNR been holding youth rodeo as a primary element of their pre-rodeo performance for years, but they also have two nights — Tuesday and Wednesday — set aside as “Family Nights” where children under the age of 12 are admitted for free! This commitment shows, too, as many of the people you’ll meet at the rodeo have been attending for years, and are carrying the memories of many Caldwell performances into the arena with them. (Security allows this, although for your information, they do frown on carrying in a few other things.)
Perhaps this is why the Caldwell Night Rodeo has such a loyal fan base. Of all the rodeos I’ve been around (and that’s a few), there is an almost religious fervor that surrounds the people that call this “their” rodeo. So pronounced is this effect that the fan base itself has actually split itself into two rival factions called the Rowdies and the Civvies. These fans claim their turf on either side of the arena, and readily allow the announcing crew to pit them against each other in loud contests of who makes up the more rabid side. No, it isn’t enough to just be a fan of the rodeo. If you’re going to claim it as your own, you have to decide which sect is yours, and hold to it as well. (Which side do I claim? I’ll be the one guy who stays unbiased and just wants to watch the performances, thank you! Although there is better shade from the August sun on the West side….)
This year’s rodeo promises to carry on the great heritage, bringing great competitors, great stock, and overwhelmingly worthy themes back, just as it does every year. Whether the Purple Family night (supporting the Man Up Crusade), Power of Pink night (supporting Tough Enough To Wear Pink), or Patriot night (supporting CNR’s own Military Relief Fund) is for you, there’s something to root for every single night, not only in the arena, but for a bigger purpose as well. And the rodeo action itself? Well, that hasn’t changed at all since they started this one in 1935.
That’s just the way we like it!
Thank you to D&B Instagram followers for letting us use your pictures.