BAXTER SPRINGS - For some the rodeo is less of an event, and more of a way of life. That feeling seemed to permeate throughout the county this past weekend, as rodeos took place in both Baxter Springs and Columbus.
A new Rodeo Queen and Princess were crowned at the Baxter Springs Rodeo, and the South Eastern Kansas Little Britches Rodeo 2017 Opening Season kicked off in Columbus. Whether rodeo blood runs through your veins or not, it's hard to live in Cherokee County and not be familiar with the sporting event. But where did this long-running community tradition begin?
The American English word "rodeo" is taken directly from Spanish: 'Rodeo', which roughly translates into English as "round up." The Spanish word is derived from the verb rodear, meaning "to surround" or "go around," used to refer to "a pen for cattle at a fair or market," derived from the Latin 'rota' or 'rotare', meaning to rotate or go around.
In Spanish America, the rodeo was the process that was used by vaqueros (cowboys) to gather cattle for various purposes, including: Moving them to new pastures, separating the cattle owned by different ranchers, or gathering in preparation for slaughter (matanza). The yearly rodeos for separating the cattle were overseen by the "Juez del Campo", or Judges of the Plains. These officials were the judges that decided all disputes over ownership of cattle, horses, and other livestock.
The term rodeo was first used in English in approximately 1834 to refer to a cattle round-up. By the 1870's it had been largely adopted to refer to exhibitions of skills used in the working rodeo. This evolved from these yearly gatherings where festivities were held and horsemen could demonstrate their equestrian skills. It was this latter usage which was adopted into the cowboy tradition of the United States and Canada, evolving into the competitive sport we know today.