Yes, the month of October is rich with festivals – Oktoberfest at Deutsches Haus, Voodoo Music Fest, New Orleans Film Festival, various seafood and oyster fests, plus fucking HALLOWEEN. Last year we went to a Haunted Corn Maze; this year we went to the Myrtles and the Angola Prison Rodeo.
Let me first just say what an awesome facility Angola is. It’s actually called Louisiana State Penitentiary and it’s been a prison since before the Civil War – jeezus.
Landscaping looks great, huh? That’s because they’ve got hundreds of really cheap gardeners. It may sound like I’m joking, but horticulture is one of several trades that prisoners can learn on the inside. That comes in handy if these guys are ever released from prison. Few businesses want to hire an ex-con, so the prisoners learn something that can earn them $40/hour working for themselves.
Angola is actually super easy on the taxpayers. It’s really just a huge farm – they raise cattle, vegetables, catfish, and produce goods that have value on the outside. They have their own newspaper, The Angolite, and they even have their own FM radio station, “the incarceration station – the only one… in the nation.”
The first thing you’ll want to do if you go to the rodeo is buy tickets in advance and get some seats opposite the chutes(these are the things the bulls come out of).
And at some point(I suggest before the rodeo), check out the Angola Prison Museum at the front gate. In addition to all the latest prison souvenirs in the giftshop, you can see what a cell looks like, learn of dazzling and violent escape attempts and see an extensive collection of shanks.
When you actually get to the rodeo, show up 2 hours early so you can take in the whole prisoner craft fair environment. Yes, all the stuff is made by prisoners. Yes, they are open to bartering. Yes, they are super well-behaved and LOVE the privilege of being able to participate in the rodeo, so don’t be scared, homie. They’ve got some pretty cool birdhouses, furniture, t-shirts, and don’t forget the leather goods! After all the cows they raise are used for food, there is a helluva lot of leather left over for CRAFT-TIME! Yaaaay!
I even bought a couple of wallets there – I’m selling one right now on EBAY. Pretty sharp, eh?
Oh, they’ve got some pretty good food too. I even had Deep-Fried Coke. No big deal(it tastes like beignets).
Now for the actual Rodeo events. I’ll skip the lame ones.
1 Bust Out – 8 angry bulls with convicts on their backs bust out of the chutes at the same time. Good thing the convicts have little to no bull riding experience.
2 Bareback Riding – this is on horses.
3 Wild Horse Race – 8 three-man teams try to catch and ride wild mustangs. Hilarity ensues as well as dudes getting dragged all over the fucking place.
4 Bull Dogging – 2 convicts try to body-slam a 500-pound calf bull that doesn’t want to be body-slammed.
5 Wild Cow Milking – 8 wild cows are released and teams have to fight for a squirt from their pissed-off teats to bring to the judges.
6 Bull Riding – yeah, that’s what it is.
7 Convict Poker – buncha prisoners sit at a card table pretending to play cards while a 1500-pound bull is released. Last guy seated is the winner. Usually, some of the guys start to run away when the bull gets close, but sometimes all 4 convicts have tremendous balls and they just sit there and hope they are the last guy the bull sends into orbit.
8 Guts & Glory – this is the signature event. A poker chip is attached(by string) to the bull and it rests on its forehead between his horns. Twenty to thirty loose convicts try to get the poker chip while the bull goes ballistic. Convicts go flying.
Just a secret bit of advice: traffic coming out of the rodeo is hellish. It took us 3 hours to go twenty miles. Unless you have a secret way off the prison grounds, I would suggest leaving after Convict Poker to beat the rush.
Also: they don’t allow cameras, guns, alcohol, or cell phones into the Rodeo, so you’ll have to check out my photos from the last time I posted on the rodeo below.