Courtesy of Lena Katz
Forget carnival concessions or festival vendors, rodeo food is the ultimate in all-American summertime eats. It’s a combination of road food, fair food, and farm-to-table cuisine. Sure, rodeos boast the deep-fried desserts of carnival fame, but traditional Native American foods and campfire-cooked staples from the Wild West days also make unforgettable appearances.
A sport that came from actual working cattle herders in Mexico, Spain, and the U.S., rodeos now draw huge crowds to see cowboys compete in calf roping, bronc riding (saddle and bareback), bull riding, team roping, and steer wrestling. With all that roping and riding going on, it’s no wonder that the most popular rodeo foods are hearty, multicultural, and even indulgent. Whether you’re a sweet or savory eater, rodeo foods have got you covered.
One classic rodeo dish finds its hybrid roots with both the Native Americans and Mexicans — the Indian taco. Served out of trucks at the rodeo park, these use fry breads instead of tortillas and have typical Indian spices. But everyone really just saves room for the deep-fried Oreos. Crispy, melty, and crazy, just make sure you only eat one (or keep your doctor on speed dial).
Cheyenne Frontier Days, which came to a close at the end of July, is one of the country’s biggest rodeos, bringing more than 200,000 people to Frontier Park for ten days of summer corn and cowboy competitions. Perhaps the most famous foodstuffs that bring cowboys together are the famous free pancake breakfasts served annually.
Whether you go for the cowboys, the horses, or the food, rodeos like Cheyenne serve up all-American-ness from top to bottom.