The GSGRA Bay Area Rodeo is a strange animal. Social events in San Francisco mix with actual rodeo competition just up the hill from San Gregorio (about 40 miles south of SF on the Pacific coast).
Not that it's not fun, it's just that's a lot of driving for a weekend, and it started with the commute up to SF. Don't ask me how, but we made it up to the City during rush on a Friday night in just a little over an hour. Traffic wasn't bad at all.
For the second year in a row, The Cathedral Hill Hotel hosted the social events. We moved in and went down to hospitality. kproche picked up our sponsor badges at the registration desk. K and I sponsor the Goat Dressing buckles, so we've got an invite. It's a great place to meet production crew, judges, rodeo royalty and other sponsors, and it's a hosted bar. That last bit is a big deal, as the cash bars in events at the Cathedral Hill are ridiculously expensive. Food wasn't as good or plentiful as last year, but there was plenty of drink and the people were great.
When hospitality closed, we headed up to the dance. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence hosted bingo before the dance started, but that was winding up by the time hospitality closed. sfbootdog was doing boots (of course).
We had too much to drink. 'nuff said. A bit of late dinner at Tommy's Joynt helped alleviate the worst of the symptoms. Tommy's brisket is divine.
Saturday we climbed out of bed late, and drove down to the rodeo grounds. It's easiest to just drive down Van Ness to 101, catch 280 over to Daly City and drive down Highway 1. In the fall Devil's Slide is almost always clear, and the drive is gorgeous.
The drive the first time is always longer than we remember, but we got to Driscoll Ranches safely, and in time to see Goat Dressing. We actually got there in time to see steer riding and the grand entrance, which was about an hour and a half late (it was supposed to be at around 1:00 PM, but was at 2:30).
There were a lot of teams registered for Goat Dressing, and a large number of teams thrown together for Community Goat Dressing (in which, in theory, anybody can compete). I shot some video and a lot of stills. I also shot the Wild Drag Race and Barrel Racing on Saturday.
We didn't stay for Bull Riding, but instead drove back up to the City to get some dinner. Sushi Hana was just down the street, so we decided to take a chance. Hana just opened a few months ago, and it's really fantastic. It was definitely worth it. There's definitely a pattern, though, of lulls and rushes, and hitting a lull is necessary unless you've got plenty of time.
By the time we got back to the hotel, the "Buckin' Ball" was in full swing. The ballroom was just packed. Scooter Lee, queen of high-energy country dance music, was singing some of her signature numbers to a very full dance floor. There were a few vendors and a silent auction in the ballroom lobby. A side function room hosted the entertainment stage, where current and past "rodeo royalty" performed for a smaller crowd.
We didn't drink as much or stay up as late. This was a good thing. Sunday was going to be a long day.
We packed the car, checked out of the hotel, got breakfast and headed down to the grounds again. This time we got there a bit earlier, in time for Bareback Bronc Riding. I also shot more Goat Dressing, Steer Riding and Wild Drag. The horse events produced some really great shots, both in Barrel Racing and Flag Racing. Flag racing is a bear to shoot, it's so fast.
The big (and last) event of the day was Bull Riding. In past years there have been only a few entrants, but this year there were over 10, and 5 of them likely qualified for finals. It was really impressive.
After the events were over, we kicked back down in the vendor area. Awards were going to be done at the grounds, saving us a trip back to the city, but leaving us with an hour or two to kill. I downloaded the day's photos to the computer, and started looking them over. Folks were asking how I was getting WiFi when their phones didn't even work, and I explained the laptop was my portable photo studio.
The photos were very popular with the contestants.
Dinner was BBQ from some unknown caterer. Ribs, chicken and sausage were all available, very smoky. The creamed corn was jalapeño creamed corn to the surprise of several people. Still, it was all very good.
Awards were great. We gave the Goat Dressing award buckles to the winning team. Best overall Cowboy and Cowgirl were given out, and that's all they wrote. We climbed into the car and drove home.
I spent a few days preparing and posting photos to my gallery, and bought a copy of Noise Ninja to clean up the high-resolution files for future printing. All that's left now is to send a DVD of the files to the rodeo association. Well, that and maybe spend some time cropping and printing some of the better photos.