PALM SPRINGS GAY RODEO & COUNTRY FAIR

[ 0 ] April 15, 2015 |

IT’S “HOT” IN THE DESERT!

~ by mark jones ~

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Palm Springs is an LGBT mecca, known for mid-century style and Hollywood glamour. Yet, from Friday, May 1 through Sunday, May 3, the Palm Springs Hot Rodeo and Country Fair is all about highlighting the city’s Western flair. The annual rodeo festival, produced by the Greater Palm Springs Chapter of the Golden State Gay Rodeo Association (GSGRA), offers a full weekend of dancing, drinking, pool parties, contests and real country flair. Yes boys and girls, there’s an actual rodeo, too, complete with horses, steers, bulls, goats and gays.

A 501(c) 3 nonprofit, GSGRA’s Greater Palm Springs Chapter (GPSC) consists of “men and women promoting western lifestyle and rodeo.” Founded in January 2000, the organization’s membership has ebbed and flowed. Today, the group has 56 “official” members, the highest in its history. “Rodeo has become more visible and more diverse in recent years and that attracts more people,” said GPSC President Jeffrey Rosenberg. “I think that’s why GPSC, and rodeo culture in general, are stronger than ever.”

The Hot Rodeo is the culmination of a year’s worth of rodeo events and fund-raisers thrown by GPSC. This year’s beneficiaries are The Life Group L.A., The LGBT Community Center of the Desert, and White Rock Ranch Horse Rescue and Retirement, Inc. “We are very committed to the community, giving back and partnering with other non-profits in Southern California.”

Rosenberg is a long-time rodeo fan who started competing in 2011. “I did it to impress him,” he admits, pointing to his partner Sammy VanGalder, seated next to him, smiling. “I’ve been competing in rodeos all my adult life,” said VanGalder, currently the group’s VP of Rodeo Operations. Virgins and veterans of rodeo can find plenty in the event lineup to enjoy. “The Hot Rodeo has something for everyone,” VanGalder added.

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The weekend, coordinated by Rodeo Director David Smith, actually begins the evening of Thursday, April 30 with a Country-Western Dance Competition at Digs followed by a Hot Rodeo & Country Fair Kick-Off Party at Hunters. Friday, May 1 starts off with the Hot Rodeo & Country Fair Pool Party at the host hotel, Caliente Tropics Resort and ends with the Hot Rodeo Poker Run, a poker-themed pub crawl. For a $5 buy-in, participants barhop along seven different venues collecting a playing card at each. The contestant who presents the best 5-card poker hand from their collected cards wins the competition.

Saturday, May 2 kicks off two days of Country Fair and Rodeo festivities from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the AC Dysart Equestrian Park in nearby Banning, an easy 25-minute drive from Palm Springs. A $20 ticket (or $100 VIP ticket) grants access for both days of fun, during which you can watch any or all of the twelve contests in four categories: Rough Stock Events, Roping, Speed Events and Camp Events, all with varying levels of difficulty. Amateur rodeo participants from across the U.S. and beyond compete for cash prizes and coveted trophies. But, don’t let the word “amateur” fool you; many contestants have been training for years, regularly competing in these difficult challenges of strength, skill and agility. Saturday night continues with Dancing Under The Stars, an outdoor party in the parking lot at Spurline Video Lounge. Tickets are $10 at the door.

Sunday, May 3 is Family Fun Day at the Hot Rodeo and Country Fair. Parents are encouraged to bring their kids along. Finally, the weekend wraps up on Sunday night with an Awards Ceremony and poolside Celebration of Champions back at the Caliente Tropics Resort beginning at 8 p.m.

If you go, remember to bring sunscreen, your best Wranglers and a ten-gallon hat for shade. They don’t call it “HOT Rodeo” for nothin’.

After all… it is Palm Springs!

For tickets and complete event information, visit hotrodeo.org.

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Category: General, Palm Springs, Travel

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