Writer’s Block: Get Along Little Dogie

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

February 12, 2015

It’s still officially winter, but Valley weather has already taken a warmer turn, and that can only mean one thing: rodeo!

This past weekend was the 26th Annual Los Fresnos PRCA Rodeo located at the fairgrounds just east of the city. The weather on Saturday was about as perfect as it can get in Texas. Blue skies, fair breezes and mild temperatures lent to the relaxed weekend atmosphere.

This is one of my favorite times of year. I love everything about it: the sound of the horses and bulls mulling about in their pens, the rodeo cowboys dressed to the nines in their performance kits, complete with custom-made chaps and vests. I love the noise, the excitement, the carnival food and the people.

And some of my favorite people at rodeos are rodeo clowns. It’s their job to keep the crowds entertained in between competitions and while competitors prepare for their turn in the arena. They’re the ultimate showmen: always quick with a quip, or ready to pull a light-hearted prank. Anything to get people laughing.

At heart, I’m a bit of an observer, constantly wanting to learn. It’s part of why I love working as a journalist and photojournalist. I love to discover people’s stories. And one of my biggest passions that allows me to do just that is via photography. So, on Saturday I ventured out to the rodeo intent on getting lost in the atmosphere and making photographs using a couple of my beloved, yet entirely anachronistic, film cameras.

The Los Fresnos arena is unique in that it has two small alleys between it and the stands along the long sides. This allows for an unfettered vantage point for photographers. I was camped out in one of those alleys happily engaged in the task of shooting old-school when I heard a woman’s voice calling out to me.

“Ma’am, ma’am,” she said. “Watch out, he’s trying to take your purse!” she said with a smile. I turned around but didn’t see anyone. I looked back up at the woman, who was still pointing behind me. I turned around again and finally saw who she was talking about. It was one of the rodeo clowns. He was trying to play a typical rodeo clown prank by pretending to take my bag.

With his gig now up, the prank was no longer an option, but I turned it around on him and asked if he would oblige me in a selfie. And that’s how the photo here came to be. Like I said, I love this time of year.

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