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PHOTOS: Cowboys & Cowgirls Return To Texas Black Rodeo In Dallas

The cowboys are blurry as they chase a steer coming out of its gate, during the bulldogging competition, with a crowd of people watching behind them, and an American flag hanging from the ceiling, at the Texas Black Invitational Rodeo this year.
Keren Carriòn
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KERA
Cowboys chase a steer during the first round of the bulldogging competition at the Texas Black Invitational Rodeo this year.

After a year without the Black rodeo, thousands attended the 32nd Texas Black Invitational Rodeo at Fair Park last Saturday.

People paraded their family horses around the arena at the Fair Park Coliseum, wearing in the red dirt for the newly-returned Texas Black Invitational Rodeo, hosted by the African American Museum in Dallas.

On either side of the arena, horses and calves were penned together, in anticipation for the events to come.

Calves are seen through metal bars in a pen outside of the rodeo, with numbers and tags on their horns and ears, as they wait in anticipation for the bulldogging race at the Texas Black Invitational Rodeo, on Saturday.
Keren Carrión / KERA News
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KERA
Calves cluster together in a pen outside of the rodeo, at the Fair Park Coliseum in Dallas, before the bulldogging race, at the 2021 Texas Black Invitational Rodeo,.

This year marked the 32nd year of the Black Rodeo in Dallas. Last year's event was cancelled due to the pandemic. Around 300 Black cowboys and cowgirls were invited to compete in staple rodeo events — like bronc and bull riding, calf and steer roping, barrel racing and more.

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Keren Carrión / KERA News
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KERA
A cowboy waits in the stables attached to the Fair Park Coliseum in Dallas, ahead of the Grand Entry Parade, at the Texas Black Invitational Rodeo.

Cowboys with Texas quarter horses prepared for the Grand Entry parade at a stable attached to the coliseum while a steady trickle of people made their way to their seats. By 8 p.m., the entire coliseum was nearly full, with about 6,000 people in attendance.

Due to new CDC guidance, attendees were encouraged to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, and many used the opportunity to break out their best pandemic cowboy get-up.

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Keren Carrión / KERA News
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KERA
Cowboys and cowgirls participate in the Grand Entry Parade, carrying American flags and the Texas flag, at the Texas Black Invitational Rodeo.
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Keren Carrión / KERA News
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KERA
A Mexican vaquera carries the American flag, during the Grand Entry Parade.

The Grand Entry Parade celebrated the historical roots of Black Americans, as well as Mexican Americans and Native Americans, who contributed to the western settling of the United States.

The first competition was bronc riding, an event where a cowboy or cowgirl will ride a bucking horse for the longest time possible without getting thrown off by the horse.

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Keren Carrión / KERA News
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KERA
A horse gallops in mid-air as a cowboy steers the horse during the Bronc riding competition.
Man riding a bronco with his left hand raised with his cowboy hat in his hand.
Keren Carrión / KERA News
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KERA News
A cowboy holds on to a bucking horse with one hand, during the Bronc riding competition that kicked off the rodeo.

Holding on with only one hand, the rider mimics an iconic cowboy pose, with his body nearly off the horse, catching his hat in mid-air right before the eight-second buzzer rings. People watched as horses burst out of the gates with contestantshold on for as long as they can before surrendering to the horse.

Two square photos show a close up of a horse, with its foot hitting the ground at a 90 degree angle, and the other photo showing the crowd leaning against the railing, recording with their phones, at the Texas Black Invitational Rodeo.
Keren Carrión / KERA News
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KERA
(Left): A Bronc horse bucks after kicking off the cowboy. (Right): People lean against the railing to record the Bronc riders on their phones during the event.

Competitors geared up for the next, and one of the most difficult, events of the night: bulldogging and calf-roping. Contestants must jump from their horse, to capture and wrestle the steer by grabbing its horns and pulling it to the ground.

A cowboy steer wrestles a calf, during the bulldogging competition, at the Texas Black Invitational Rodeo, in Dallas, on July 31, 2021.
Keren Carrión
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KERA
A cowboy steer wrestles a calf during the bulldogging competition.
Back of man on a horse with rip on the back of his right shirt sleeve.
Keren Carriòn / KERA News
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KERA
One cowboy's buttoned-down shirt ripped after wrestling a steer during the bulldogging competition.

Calf-roping takes it one step farther. The cowboy chases a calf with a lasso, aiming for the neck, in order to capture the calf. The person dismounts from the horse, “throws down” the calf, and ties any of its three legs together, before raising their hands in victory.

A cowboy straddles a calf to tie up its three legs, while his horse looks away, during the calf roping competition, at the Texas Black Rodeo.
Keren Carrión / KERA News
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KERA
A cowboy straddles a calf to tie up its three legs during the calf roping competition.

People cheered as the last calf-roper of the night, Ke’ Elronn Hatley, won with nearly a perfect score.

The rest of the night continued with barrel racing, a Pony Express relay race and more, as kids and adults alike watched in awe.

Parents and kids with cowboy hats and masks, watch the rodeo in anticipation, at their beige seats at the Fair Park Coliseum, at the Texas Black Rodeo.
Keren Carrión / KERA News
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KERA
Kids watch in anticipation as the calf roping competition comes to a close.

Keren Carrión is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Got a tip? Email Keren at Kcarrion@kera.org. You can follow Keren on Twitter @kerencarrion8.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

Keren I. Carrión is a visual journalist for KERA in Dallas as well as The Texas Newsroom, a journalism collaboration among the public radio stations of Texas and NPR. She is currently a Report for America corps member.