BY RODOLFO ROMAN
The Miami Herald
Riding on a chocolate Palomino, Kimberly Boyette came to a halt after a challenging barrel race.
“He could have done a lot better, but at first he didn’t want to go inside the pen,” said Boyette. “But, he did OK.”
In fact, just being in the 61st annual Homestead Championship Rodeo at Harris Field was a thrill for her and her horse.
On Sunday, Boyette joined cowboys, cowgirls, bull riders and bull fighters who competed and excited thousands at the rodeo. She competed in barrel racing that consists of a horse and rider attempting to complete a clover-leaf pattern around preset barrels in the fastest time. The Punta Gorda resident found the course at the DeMilly Rodeo Arena hard.
“The pattern is set so back far from the arena,” said Boyette, who performs almost every weekend across the state.
“Your horse has to have a lot of wind because you have to go a long way to the finish line.”
The three-day rodeo brought a crowd of more than 10,000 visitors who came from as far away as Europe. It is sponsored by the Homestead Rodeo Association.
The rodeo was a first for Julia Muyu who was visiting South Florida from Italy.
“I love the atmosphere,” she said. “It feels very American.”
Spectators cheered and stomped their feet on the aluminum bleachers, when bull riders performed. The announcer hyped the crowd as he presented the riders and bulls — that were nicknamed the likes of “Blood Sucker.”
For those who didn’t want to attempt to ride the real thing, a mechanical bull was also available. Rodeo fans also indulged on everything from cold lemonade to barbecue. Most food was sold by nonprofits and community organizations such as the Boy Scouts who sold popcorn.
The weekend affair started Friday with a rodeo parade in downtown Homestead Saturday that featured marching bands, tractors, four-wheelers and floats.
Each rodeo show included seven major events and lasted more than two hours. But the event is more than a show as performers compete for a grand prize.
Enthusiastic fans also watched athletes compete in bare-back and saddle bronco riding.
The crowd also enjoyed tie-down roping, where cowboys roped calves and steer wrestling competition in which a cowboy caught up to a steer, grabbed him by the horns and wrestled him down.
More than 60 bull riders from all parts of the world participated in the most anticipated contest of the weekend: bull riding. Cowboys have to hang on for at least eight seconds.
The sport got the attention of Guillermo Quero of Homestead.
“The show is great and I’ve enjoyed the horses and cowboys,” he said.
“My favorite is the bull riding because it is pretty tough.”
However, the show is more than entertainment, said former Homestead Rodeo Association president Nick Coffin.
“It’s a community affair,” he said.
“Most of the profits go toward nonprofit organizations like the Boy Scouts.”
Coffin added that the annual event has become a city trademark. “It’s one of the premiere and biggest events in Homestead,” said Coffin, who was raised in the city.
Wearing a cowboy hat, boots and jeans, Davie resident Byron Mcintosh has been attending the rodeo since 1988.
“The facility is always improving,” said Mcintosh, a bull fighter. “The committee is really good here and you notice that every time you come here.”