I used to live in a town called Warwick in rural Queensland, Australia. They hold an annual Rodeo here and it is an important event for the town; it highly regarded in Rodeo circles being Australia's Rodeo in many respects.
Of course, there are always questions about the treatment of animals in Rodeos and many are outraged, perhaps rightly at times, about possible cruelty.
I don't want to enter in to a debate about the cruelty of animals at Rodeos; I have probably said enough as it is on the subject.
What I want to focus on is the importance of events like the Warwick Rodeo for the health of rural communities. It is a coming together of people, a meeting place and a community of like-minded folk. There is a certain family aspect concerning events like Rodeos and it is a special quality that needs to be respected.
I am aware that Rodeos are under threat by activists and animal rights advocates but I pray that they never quash the spirit of these events. I do not personally believe that all Rodeo events are detrimental to the health and well-being of the stock used. I have witnessed with my own eyes and have been impressed how well rural peoples treat their horses, cattle and such.
I have been a very angry young man for years now and my reason for visiting the Warwick Rodeo on one occasion was not a good one. I wanted to perhaps pick a fight with the Chief Steward there, Doctor John Kiss, and, thankfully, my aggressive nature calmed itself, largely thanks to the friendly Rodeo people I met.
Yes, there is drink here, and there are fights, but there is also a great deal of brotherhood and much respect and I was touched by how natural and at peace the crowds were. It was a good time and even though my behavior still got me in to trouble that weekend, I was moved by the fellowship of this event.
May God always bless the Warwick Rodeo, because it still matters.