Folsom Rodeo

Photo Series: Folsom Rodeo 60th Anniversary

Say cheese, partner.

Photos and Words by Cameron Munn

The Fourth of July has become a weird holiday. With COVID and the state of unrest in the country, it’s hard to want to celebrate. This year, however, my friends and I decided that since we were vaccinated, and the state of California was finally fully open, we would embrace the weirdness and dive in headfirst. What better way to do that than go to a rodeo in the middle of a small town. My partner and I had been road tripping through California and stumbled across the 60th anniversary of the Folsom Rodeo. We figured it would be the perfect place to have some fun and get some amazing photos. Feeling inspired and itching to be in a big crowd of people, we strolled up to the front gates adorned in our best cowboy gear. Our holsters were filled with ten rolls of film, a Pentax 645n, and a Super 8 camera. We were feeling like a couple of desperados. That was until our cameras were confiscated at the front gate for looking “too professional.” After a brief moment of disappointment, we decided what the heck and headed to the bar for an ice-cold jack and coke. We sat in the bleachers watching mutton bustin’, a bull riding type competition where small children cling to sheep for dear life, a moms-only competition that can only be described as a mix between tackle football and Black Friday shopping, and a hilariously uncomfortable kiss mam.   

An empty stadium with trash and liter. A woman wearing a cowboy hat walks up the steps In photograph of Folsom Rodeo 60th Anniversary by Cameron Munn
A back shot of a man wearing a collared shirt and wearing a large white cowboy hat In photograph of Folsom Rodeo 60th Anniversary by Cameron Munn
People standing, wearing cowboy hats. A woman drinks out of a can In photograph of Folsom Rodeo 60th Anniversary by Cameron Munn

As the firework grand finale died down, it was obvious that this night was the highlight of the year for many of the folks there as people cried, embraced, and reminisced about past years. The tears and the Jack Daniels flowed as people made their way to the after-party “Saloon Under the Stars,” a live concert where those high on the excitement of the rodeo events were able to let loose on the dance floor. I got my camera back just in time to shoot the remainder of the night. To say I was out of my element was an understatement, but that’s ideal for me. The lights, the outfits, and the music all created the perfect environment for amazing photographs. The ability to tell stories through the photos that I take is why I love photography. I strive to give my audience an authentic feel of what a place, a time, an event was actually like. The photos may not be of the actual rodeo itself, but they exude the energy and emotions of the night. On this wild ride of a night we learned how to spot a poser by his boots, to line-dance like pros, and to get a media pass before showing up. I cannot wait for next time when I’ll get to say this isn’t my first rodeo. Yeehaw! 

An older couple dance at night. The woman is wearing an American flag shirt In photograph of Folsom Rodeo 60th Anniversary by Cameron Munn
A man holding a guitar sings into a microphone. He's wearing a hat and jeans In photograph of Folsom Rodeo 60th Anniversary by Cameron Munn
An older couple have the arms wrapped around each other and look off into the distance In photograph of Folsom Rodeo 60th Anniversary by Cameron Munn
A woman site alone in an empty stadium, holding a cup of beer In photograph of Folsom Rodeo 60th Anniversary by Cameron Munn
A man in a black shirt and white cowboy hat looks off camera In photograph of Folsom Rodeo 60th Anniversary by Cameron Munn
People in a group at night In photograph of Folsom Rodeo 60th Anniversary by Cameron Munn. The man is smiling and wearing a cowboy hat. The woman next to him is smiling and has her hair in braids.
A crowd of dark figures stand under string lights In photograph of Folsom Rodeo 60th Anniversary by Cameron Munn