The Angola Prison Rodeo celebrates 50 years as the “Wildest Show in the South” on Saturday and Sunday at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
What began in 1965 as a small rodeo staged for the entertainment of prisoners and employees has grown over the years and has strived to provide a professional rodeo production, proving beneficial to the internal inmate economy but also to the West Feliciana Parish tourism industry, a news release said.
In 1967, the rodeo officially opened to the public, but there were no stands; spectators sat on apple crates or on the hoods of their vehicles.
The success of the 1967 and 1968 rodeos prompted construction of a 4,500-seat arena in time for the 1969 rodeo.
The rodeo grew in size over the years and added events and sponsorships. In 1972, the official Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rules were adopted, and the Angola rodeo became a permanent fixture.
In 1997, spectator capacity was expanded by 1,000 seats, and a roof over the seating area was constructed as well as the expansion of a hobby-craft area featuring handmade items by inmates.
Ticket, concession and hobby-craft sales in 1998 and 1999 broke records and prompted construction of a new arena for 7,500 people.
The Angola Prison Rodeo is now an all-day arts and crafts festival with entertainment, food and rodeo events for 10,000 spectators.
Events include the Bust Out, which places six brave “convict cowboys” atop six angry bulls. When all six chutes open simultaneously, releasing men and bulls into the arena, the last man to remain on a bull wins the event.
Wild Cow Milking features teams of inmates chasing animals around the arena trying to extract milk. The first team to bring milk to the judge wins a prize. Convict Poker includes four inmate cowboys sitting at a table in the middle of the arena playing a game of poker. A wild bull is released with the sole purpose of unseating the poker players. The last to remain seated is the winner.
The Guts and Glory run has a poker chip tied to the meanest, toughest bull and has inmates trying to get close enough to snatch the winning chip. Other events include barrel racing, bareback riding, buddy pick-up, bull riding and wild horse races.
Gates open at 9 a.m., and the rodeo starts at 2 p.m. Several inmate bands are scheduled to perform before the rodeo, with the Angola Prison Rodeo Band performing during the entire rodeo beginning at 2 p.m.
Inmate craft booths will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, and items for sale include jewelry, leather crafts, paintings and woodworking. Souvenir caps and T-shirts will be sold.
Concession stands throughout the arena will sell sandwiches, salads, pizza, po-boys, jambalaya, barbecue ribs, meat pies, burritos, tacos, nachos, fried shrimp, fried catfish, roasted and boiled peanuts, baked potatoes, french fries, pastries, funnel cakes, ice cream, snow cones, soft drinks, lemonade, punch, water and coffee.
Proceeds from the Angola Prison Rodeo cover rodeo expenses and supplement the Louisiana State Penitentiary Inmate Welfare Fund, which provides educational and recreational supplies for inmates.
Held the third Saturday and Sunday in April and every Sunday in October, the Angola Prison Rodeo is located at the end of La. 66 about 22 miles northwest of St. Francisville. Tickets cost $15 and are available online by visiting angolarodeo.com.
Call (225) 655-2030 for information.