The sixth annual gay rodeo promises a family friendly weekend
The sixth annual Sunshine Stampede makes its way this weekend to the Bergeron Rodeo Grounds in Davie.
“We keep getting bigger and bigger,” said Rodeo Director Jim Mitchell. “The first year was incredible. We never anticipated the attendance. We really started out with a bang.”
Mitchell said besides a few protestors the first year there hasn’t been much resistance to the rodeo.
“I still remember the first year someone was holding up a sign that read ‘No Petofites,’” he said with a chuckle. “I still haven’t figured out what that is, but it sounds nasty.”
Other than that a few PETA protestors show up each year, but he said the rodeo has strict animal cruelty rules and abuse is not tolerated. He also noted there is a veterinarian on-site just in case there’s an emergency.
“The Town of Davie has also been wonderful to us,” he said.
“The Sunshine Stampede has found a great home at the Davie Arena and Bergeron Rodeo grounds,” said Mayor of Davie, Judy Paul. “The crowds are always huge and the events and stock are fun and challenging. Davie is Cowboy Town and the rodeo is part of our heritage and agricultural roots.”
The first year about 3,700 people attended the rodeo and each year thereafter more than 4,000 have come out for the weekend.
About 120 contestants will participate this year with some traveling as far away as Texas and Washington D.C.
Mitchell noted that unlike some gay events sex isn’t the centerpiece.
“The rodeo is very family friendly,” he said. “I bring my 88-year-old parents. There is nothing there that makes me uncomfortable. There’s nothing offensive. It’s not all about sex.”
For contestant Kirk Ruben, 37, of Wilton Manors, it’s not all about the fun, but the charity as well.
“We raise a lot of money for local charities that help the gay community,” he said.
Each year FGRA chooses a different charity to donate some of their proceeds to after the event. This year they’ve chosen the Broward House M project.
The Bergeron Rodeo Grounds are located at 4271 Davie Road in Davie. Tickets are $15 each day. Visit Fgra.org for more information.
Editor’s note: Jason Parsley is a reporter with the South Florida Gay News and this article is used with permission.