For the first time in years, I didn't spend the Memorial Day weekend in Detroit for DEMF. I chose instead to shoot the Marysville Stampede, which according to my calculations is pretty much the opposite of DEMF.
The Stampede is much smaller than the other rodeos I shoot, but there are two things about it that make up for the lack of superstar contestants: great golden light due to 5:30pm starting times, and the fact that it is produced by Cotton Rosser and the Flying U Rodeo Company, stock contractor to most of the other rodeos in California.
As I drove up to Marysville from another assignment in San Jose, the sky turned dark and it poured down rain, jeopardizing my beautiful golden light...and my gear since the forecast called for 0% chance of rain, I left my rain covers at home. Since I don't get to shoot as many rodeos as I would like, I knew that I was going to have to rig something up, and I picked up some trash bags and duct tape and made some covers for my cameras and made my way to Cotton Rosser Arena in my SNOWBOARDING JACKET and COWBOY HAT. I'm really redefining how to look ridiculous.
In a stroke of perfect timing, it stopped raining and the sun started to peak through the clouds just as the opening ceremonies began. And by the time things got underway, I had my golden light:
This picture of Brady Scott Williams ran on Sports Illustrated online:
Nicholas Mitchell learns a physics lesson: What goes up must come down:
Mary Moe lost her hat as she crossed the starting line, but kept riding:
Troy "The Wild Child" Lerwill kicked up so much dirt on his bike that it threw off the autofocus on my camera, but left me with an interesting picture anyway:
I'm still amazed by the team bronc riders who continually get their asses kicked by the wild horses:
And there was mutton bustin' where a sheep got loose and stepped on my 400mm. Were I not a vegetarian, I would have had that thing for dinner.
Usually the kids hold on to the fur and end up sliding off the side, but this girl sat up the whole ride, and got bucked off just like a bull rider!
This kid was fine until he actually sat on the sheep, and then he screamed bloody murder until his dad came and took him away.
There was also an event for the junior miners where silver dollars were buried in the arena dirt and the kids had to dig them up.
On Sunday when the weather was great and I was able to ditch my jacket in favor of a denim shirt. I ran into a woman who does PR for one of the ropers and she said that she never would have recognized me because I LOOKED TOO MUCH LIKE A COWBOY! So there.
My hat is off to Cotton Rosser and the rest of the Flying U staff for a great hometown rodeo.
Some early clips: