Gay rodeo returns to Utah, celebrating diversity and Western tradition

Saddle up and get ready for an exhilarating weekend as the Utah Gay Rodeo makes its triumphant return to the Golden Spike Arena in Ogden on June 22 and 23. The Crossroads of the West Regional Rodeo promises to be an exciting blend of traditional rodeo competitions and flamboyant “camp” events that celebrate the diversity and inclusivity of the LGBTQ+ community.

“It’s a big party. It’s a big festival,” enthuses Raeann Grow, president of the Utah Gay Rodeo Association. “It’s the country lifestyle, with a flare and a live rodeo at the same time.”

With 13 traditional events, such as bull riding, steer riding, calf roping, pole bending, and team roping, alongside three camp events — goat dressing, steer decorating, and the wild drag race — the rodeo offers something for everyone.

The camp events are a highlight, showcasing the creativity and humor of participants. Steer decorating involves adorning a steer’s tail with a ribbon, while the wild drag race sees a team member dressed in drag attempting to ride a steer to the finish line. In goat dressing, teams race against the clock to put underpants on a goat.

“It’s literally people putting underwear on goats,” Grow says with a laugh.

“All the other events are standard as you’d see at any professional rodeo,” Grow adds, emphasizing the inclusivity of the event. “Competitors include gay, straight, and transgender individuals. Everyone’s welcome to compete, and everybody’s welcome to attend.”

The Utah Gay Rodeo is a family-friendly event with all activities maintaining a PG rating. Rodeo events take place inside the arena, while the Golden Spike Arena Courtyard hosts county fair-style games and entertainment from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. Vendors will offer a variety of items, including Western hats, T-shirts, candles, and more. Food and alcohol will also be available, and a Silent Auction will raise funds for charity and future UGRA events.

Entertainment will be plentiful throughout the weekend. Saturday night features a special performance by past and present International Gay Rodeo Association. This year’s rodeo royalty are Mr. UGRA 2024 Steve Housley, Miss UGRA 2024 I’sis DeCarlo-Cha’Nel, and MX UGRA 2024 Mystic DeCarlo-Cha’Nel Foxx

Admission to the rodeo is $15 per day for those 16 and above, and free for those 15 and under, while entertainment in the Courtyard is free. More information and tickets can be found on the UGRA website (utahgayrodeo.com) or the Golden Spike Arena website (goldenspikeeventcenter.com).

Each day of the rodeo begins at 11 a.m. with the Grand Entry, followed by a packed schedule of events that run back-to-back until all competitors have finished. The lineup includes calf roping on foot, team roping, mounted breakaway, steer decorating, pole bending, mutton busting, chute dogging, steer riding, goat dressing, ranch saddle bronc, bull riding, wild drag, barrel racing, and the flag race.

The rough stock events, such as bull riding and steer riding, test contestants’ ability to stay atop or maneuver around animals many times their size. These events require significant skill and experience. In the adrenaline-pumping bull riding event, riders must contend with a massive, often aggressive bull, while ranch saddle bronc riding involves riding a horse fitted with a full saddle and holding onto a soft rope.

Speed events like barrel racing, pole bending, and the flag race highlight the agility and speed of both horse and rider, with participants vying for the fastest time. These events demand precision and quick reflexes, and a single mistake can lead to disqualification.

The rodeo’s camp events are where the creativity and humor shine. Steer decorating, wild drag race, and goat dressing require participants to navigate quirky challenges, often resulting in hilarious and memorable moments.

The International Gay Rodeo Association and the Utah Gay Rodeo Association adhere to strict animal welfare practices. More information at utahgayrodeo.com/rodeo-info/animal-welfare

As the Utah Gay Rodeo returns, it promises to be a celebration of community, diversity, and the enduring spirit of the rodeo. With its mix of traditional and camp events, it’s an event that welcomes everyone to come, compete, and enjoy the fun. “Please come and enjoy playing in the dirt with us,” Grow invites.

For detailed information about the running order of events and more, visit the Utah Gay Rodeo website. Don’t miss this unique celebration of Western culture with a fabulous twist.

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