Fifty-some years later, my wife and I are camped at an RV park in
In Chasing Rodeo W.K. (Kip) Stratton takes on big themes for a book ostensibly about a season spent attending the big rodeos and examining rodeo culture. Stratton examines the history of rodeo, racism, popular culture, and his own search for the absent rodeo bum father he has never met. While asserting at the beginning that his adoptive father was a true father to him, Stratton’s ceaseless search for flighty “Cowboy Don” dominates this enjoyable and informative book. While Kip Stratton has never met his biological father, he creates an image in his mind of a happy-go-lucky cowboy drifter who lives in a beat up pick-up truck as he cuts a swath through a world of sex, booze, and western lore with a charming smile and a cowboy attitude. Stratton seeks out Cowboy Don as he attends large and small rodeos in the West.
At each stop along the way, Stratton provides a background history for the rodeo he is visiting, placing it in a context of the development of rodeo and its connection to the old west the nineteenth century. He connects rodeo events to the skills of working cowboys while taking notice that many of today’s rodeo performers have never worked on ranches and even questions whether some bull riders have ridden horses. Since bull riding has separated itself from traditional rodeo and now sells itself as an independent sport, this accusation carries some venom with it.
In his visits to contemporary rodeos at