Checking out the Calves
My girls checking out the calves at the 2014 Cherokee PRCA Rodeo before the action started.

“This is the best night ever!” yelled one of my girls. She along with the rest of our family had a great time at the Cherokee PRCA Rodeo in Cherokee, Iowa. But, this was her statement before the bull riding and barrel racing even began! The night only got better once the action started.

The Cherokee PRCA Rodeo has become an annual event for our family. We’ve been there three out of the past four summers and haven’t gotten tired of it yet! The rodeo offers three nights of entertainment during the last weekend in May. Next year Cherokee will celebrate 50 years of rodeo, so they know what they are doing when it comes to hosting a good show.

Friendly Goat at the Rodeo
The goats at the petting zoo are one of the highlights of the evening. This photo is from 2014, when the weather was warmer!

The weather was cold and windy this year, and the threat of rain was imminent, but that didn’t stop us from embarking on a family adventure. We brought blankets for snuggling and packed rain ponchos in case of a torrential downpour. We arrived early to get a front row seat and check out the kids activities. The petting zoo was full of friendly goats longing to be fed by excited children. Pony rides and a mower train were also on hand for some good old-fashioned fun. Of course, we had to feed and pet the goats (one of my girls wanted a goat for Christmas last year, so this was amazing for her). The girls were all smiles and giggles as they rode the mower train.

Doughnut Time
Although it doesn’t look like it, this little lady was super excited for doughnuts and wan’t too keen on sharing!

After looking at the hats, purses, and boots at the vendor booths, we made our way to our seats. The smells from the food booths were tantalizing and although we had eaten before we arrived, we had to try the mini doughnuts. They were delightfully warm and full of cinnamon-sugar goodness. By the time our fingers were licked clean, the show was about to start.

The cold kept us in our seats and cuddled together under the blankets rather than on our feet, but with front-row seats we had a good view of the action. Across the board, the cowboys had a rough night. They were quickly bucked, and calves dodged lassos left and right. While some would have been disappointed by the run of bad luck, you wouldn’t have known that with my girls’ reactions. They clapped and cheered for the cowboys and laughed at the rodeo clown. The barrel racers and bull riders were the favorite events of the evening. The glitz and sparkles of the Rodeo Queens and their horses also caught my girls’ eyes. It was fun to see how everyone came together to pull off a great show. Unfortunately, half-way through the bull riders, it started to sprinkle. The rain gradually picked up and it was getting late, so we decided to call it a night. The bulls don’t mind rain, so the show went on for the majority of the crowd.

Staying Warm During the Rodeo
All bundled up and watching the barrel racing at the Cherokee PRCA Rodeo.

Although we were sad the rain cut our evening short and made us miss the traditional end-of-show fireworks display, we had a great time at the rodeo. On the way home, our girls excitedly reminisced about the different events until they couldn’t keep their eyes open. I’m sure the next few weeks will be full of rodeo talk and play at our house. And when my little girl tells me she wants to be a barrel racer or Rodeo Queen when she gets big, I will smile and remember the big fun we had at the small town Iowa rodeo.

Remember to put the 50th Annual Cherokee PRCA Rodeo on your calendar next May. If you can’t wait that long, look for other rodeos in your area. Summer is rodeo season, so check out local town celebrations and fairs to find events close to you. Here are some other tips when planning to go to a rodeo:

  • My Girls with Miss Rodeo Iowa
    My girls with Miss Rodeo Iowa, Rachel Burton in 2012. They look for the new rodeo royalty each year, but nothing will top the first year!

    Check the weather. It can still get cold at night in May. Bring blankets and extra layers if needed. I’m so glad we did this year! The show will go on even if it rains; plan ahead so you can enjoy it in comfort.

  • Arrive early. If you want a front-row seat you will need to stake your claim early. I recommend seats near the front with small children so they can easily stretch their legs (This rodeo is two to three hours long).  We were on the rodeo grounds an hour early and in our seat at least 30 minutes before the action started. When the weather is nice, seats fill up quickly.
  • Check the schedule for special events. Cherokee’s rodeo offers a Family Night on Thursday and a Women’s Night on Friday. If you have children, the Family Night show may be worth checking out due to reduced prices and special activities.
  • Buy doughnuts (or some other not-good-for-you treat), optional. There is something fun and exciting about trying something different or new when you are on an adventure.
  • Visit the royalty. Miss Rodeo Iowa and other rodeo queens are likely to be at local rodeos. They work hard year-long to represent Iowa’s rich Western heritage and are great role-models for future cowgirls. These girls can be found signing autographs and posing for photos prior to the rodeo.
  • Last, but not least, have fun and enjoy the Small Town Iowa Fun that a rodeo brings!

***UPDATE*** The 2016 Cherokee PRCA Rodeo will be held June 2-4.


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