Graham Cox and Beth Poole, tourists from the United Kingdom, never heard of Baker, Louisiana, but, thanks to a Google search, they left saying it was their first rodeo and their first zydeco. “I love Louisiana,” Poole said. “Even when it’s quiet it’s not quiet.”
Organizers of the City of Baker Rodeo planned to reestablish the city’s rodeo tradition on Sept. 8 and hoped to attract competitors and visitors from local communities and maybe neighboring states. Drawing visitors from the United Kingdom put icing on the cow patty and made the rodeo revamp an international affair.
Poole and Cox left Somerset, U.K., with a rough agenda of experiencing Louisiana. They spent most of their first week in New Orleans and then struck out for parts unknown. After we spent a week in New Orleans, the plan was always to hire a car and do what we call a “'fly drive' of the states and we wanted to stick to Louisiana,” Poole said. “We are really interested in the history and the culture and the cuisine in the area.”
The couple was touring Vermilionville when they heard the suggestion “you must visit a rodeo while you are here.” A Google search returned the Baker rodeo matching their travel dates and they got directions and headed out.
Cox can relate to something else Louisiana is also famous for — coffee. He is the director of Bean Shot Coffee, a roastery located in Somerset, a county in South West England. They roast and supply premium coffee across the U.K. and Europe.
The rodeo offered the usual events including barrel racing, goat roping and tie-down events, but added a sampling of local cuisine, culture and music. After the competition, food vendors, and trail rides, a zydeco dance featuring Louisiana artist Little Nate concluded the all-day affair.
“It was amazing, absolutely incredible,” Cox said of his first rodeo. “It’s heaps of fun and we have inhaled a lot of food, like ribs and po-boys.”
The City of Baker Rodeo started in 1993, but it had not been active in recent years. City officials said Mayor Darnell Waites revived the rodeo to support community interests and traditions. The city teamed with K & L Rodeo Productions to organize the event and the Southern University Ag Center to provide the venue at their M.A. Edmond Livestock Arena located on Scenic Highway near the point where Baton Rouge and Baker meet.
The city estimated 600 people participated in the rodeo, trail ride and zydeco performance. Waites was pleased by the turn and said he feels it will be even better next year. “This puts Baker on the map and shows that we can produce major events and make them work as a draw for people even in North Baton Rouge,” he said. “We have the partnerships to produce huge events in North Baton Rouge.”