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A rodeo opens in controversy

July 18, 2008 |  7:21 am

Roping_a_calf_3As previously noted on L.A. Unleashed, the world's largest outdoor rodeo remains mired in controvery. The Associated Press reports:

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Western heritage runs deep in this high plains city, and nothing typifies the local cowboy and ranching culture more than the 10-day Cheyenne Frontier Days celebration (the photo at left is from last year's event), which boasts the world's largest outdoor rodeo.

Yet, as this year's "Daddy of 'Em All" rodeo gets under way this weekend, the event is fighting off allegations of animal cruelty, which prompted the rock band Matchbox Twenty to cancel a scheduled performance. Animal-rights activists want certain rodeo events banned. Organizers and competitors are calling it an attack on Western tradition.

"I feel like it's like gun control. If you let him take one event, they're going to try to get another. And then, I think, it's just going to snowball from there," said Brian McNamee, a past rodeo competitor from Wyoming.

The culture clash comes amid a national debate on the treatment of sporting animals following the death of a racehorse in the Kentucky Derby. Animal-rights groups have long fought to eliminate cockfighting, dogfighting and game-farm hunts, and have advocated for better treatment of zoo and circus animals. But rodeos are starting to gain more of their attention, and in some cases protests.

Photo: Michael Smith / The Wyoming Tribune Eagle

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