By Rédaction Africanews and AP
Loud country music came through the speakers as cowboys entered the arena to kickstart this year’s Rupununi Ranchers Rodeo in Lethem Guyana.
Since the mid-eighties, the Rupununi Ranchers’ Rodeo ground in the country’s southwest has hosted one of the nation’s main cowboys fest.
Thousands of visitors travelled from the capital and abroad to attend the annual-event held over the weekend (Apr. 08-09).
For 22-year old Shinier Smartt, who travel with friends, it was a first.
“I came up here a couple of days ago. We travelled up with a truck it was just the dust (that bothered a little) but the trail and everything, the scenery has just been very much beautiful,” she says.
“We haven’t been getting any problems on the trip, the entire trip has just been a fun one. And we are here for the famous rodeo and so far, its just been very thrilling.”
Popular events include bareback bronco, saddle bronco, steer roping, ribbon roping and wild cow milking, and cowboys and cowgirls pit their skill against one another in a friendly competition.
Rancher Ian Rodriguez is a native of Rupununi. Like his father did once, he’s one of the festival’s judges.
The legacy lives on
“In the past, Lethem, Rupununi was known as one of the biggest livestock rearing regions. We had a lot of good ranchers, cattle. And we do it for personal gain, commercial business, you know, and everybody growing up knowing that Lethem is a ranching area, you know, The Rupununi. That’s why that that legacy still lives on, you know.”
The rodeo is organized by The Rodeo Committee which is a part of the Rupununi Livestock Producer’s Association. The event is seen as a focal point for continuing the traditions of the Rupununi, but also is a growing tourism attraction.
Rodeo participants are mainly local cowboys and cowgirls, with very few professional rodeo riders. However some participants come all the way from Britain, the United States and Brazil.
Among the authorities of Guyana who attended the event this year was President Mohamed Irfaan Ali.