Every year for 50 years, the Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana has hosted its prison rodeo; and it has been open to the public for 42 of those years, since 1967. The rodeo takes place on Sundays in October and one weekend in April.
There are also prison rodeos in Oklahoma and Texas, but the Angola Prison Rodeo is the longest continuously running prison rodeo. It’s held in a stadium that can hold 10,000, and although it might seem a bit barbaric to outsiders, inmates report that it gives them a sense of freedom and change from the dull routine of prison life.
The inmates compete in various events, including bareback horse riding, wild cow milking, and bull and bronco riding. However, there are less traditional rodeo events like bull poker, where four men sit at a table as a bull charges in, with the last sitting man winning. Meanwhile, inmate bands perform and hobby craft and art items produced by the inmates are sold. The finale of the event occurs as inmates try to sneak up on an angry bull and pluck off a poker chip which has been tied to its horns.
As the rodeo is held on prison grounds, spectators’ cars are subject to search.