Ethnographic Analysis

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The central event of the Round Up weekend is the rodeo.  For many attendees, this is the only event experienced.  This event gives the audience an exciting view of how cowhands work on the ranch.  Big city visitors view the bronc busting, cattle branding, cow penning, and wild cow milking and leave thinking they have seen what ranch life is all about.  However, it is the events on the outskirts of the rodeo that reflects what made ranching the rich life it has been for over a hundred years.

The events the ranch families compete in include aspects of ranching that make it a rich and fulfilling life.  The craft competition includes items made by hand for everyday life with a western touch.  Items such as hand crafted tables and rocking chairs show how the families completed their homes before mail order furniture came to the far reaches of the west.  Artwork made by families and hands decorated homes and reflected the images of the range. Skits and poems show how the families entertained themselves before radio and television reached the range.  For the casual visitor to the Round Up, these events seem ordinary and perhaps dull, but they reflect the rich culture and heritage that have been passed down from the original pioneers that established these ranches on the far end of the western range.

The event that most reflects the deep heritage of the ranches is the Sunday morning church service.  Few secular festivals include such a religious event.  To the families from the ranches, it is a deep connection to each other and to the Christian faith that gave their forefathers the strength to survive the desolation and struggle to survive inherent in settling the west.  The church service is not exclusive – everyone is invited to participate, however, some Round Up attendees may feel excluded by the overt Christianity of the service.  This service fulfills a deep essential community need for the ranch families even as it deters anyone of other faiths from feeling a connection to them.