There is a line in the movie, “Electric Cowboy” where Allie, the reporter character played by Jane Fonda, is trying to build credibility with Sonny, the rodeo star character played by Robert Redford. In hoping to win him over so she can get the headline-making story she is pursuing, she blurts out that of course she’s been to a rodeo. When he asks if she, “Stayed all the way until the rattle snake round-up?”, she blithely answers that she did. Now, while I have in fact been to both a rodeo and to a rattle snake round-up, they are indeed separate events. And Florida is not the place you usually associate with rodeos. Homestead and South Dade however has a thriving horse community and in 1949, the Elks Lodge decided to hold the “Country’s Southernmost Rodeo”. While the organization of it later passed to the Homestead Rodeo Association, except for one or two years, it has been a continuing annual event the last weekend of January. All the details can be found at http://homesteadrodeo.com and in some years there are extra events that fill days before the rodeo. It is a fully sanctioned rodeo and brings competitors from around the country.
A separate, but integral organization to the association is the Homestead Everglades Posse that was established in 1951. The non-profit organization promotes better sportsmanship, horsemanship and the fun as well as skill of riding. All riders in the Posse, whether youth or adult, are amateurs, riding and training their own horse. The Posse has ridden in the Homestead Rodeo every year since 1952 and they perform synchronized drill patterns on horseback.
The rodeo is a great family outing and brings to mind the “county fair” feel with activities in and around the arena at Harris Field. And no, even though the rodeo will continue into the future, I don’t think there will ever be plans to establish a rattlesnake round-up.