Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo July 10-11 in Hayward

"I'm in love," the damsel said as she flew on the back of "Superman," a three year old Tennessee Walker. It just happened to be a few days past her birthday and without spent wishes or lit candles she certainly deserved to have at least one wish this special week and well "Superman" was da man to make it happen; girlfriend smiled all the way back to Oakland late late afternoon.

There is something about a fine black man on a fine looking black horse.

Wishes and dreams (smile). Talk about a positive affirmation.

I think the rodeo is my new pastime. Gone is UniverSoul Circus…Ringling Bros saw me for the last time last season. Bill Pickett is my new place to go and hang out with family and friends. This year my granddaughter, Brianna and I were joined by her mother, my older daughter Bilaliyah. I think she’s hooked too (smile).

We ran into old friends, friends who knew me before gray hair—yes, sistah girl was looking plenty hard to see under the color (smile). The weather was great as well on Sunday, July 11, 2010 at Rowell Ranch Rodeo Grounds on the Hayward/Castro Valley border. The title of the 25th Anniversary Bill Pickett Rodeo: “The Greatest Show on Dirt” is “A Taste of Passion Tour” and one could see the passion in the contestant’s eyes, especially those who were tasting dirt.

We sat on the opposite side of the arena this year—the side without the box seats. I liked it over there. It was more spacious—mellow, but then it’s mellow no matter where one finds herself on Bill Pickett weekends—everything is everything and everything is all right from the snow cones to the catfish and barbecue, not to mention tea cakes and peach cobbler.

I missed the entire second half of the Women’s Events—it was that mellow (smile); we stayed too long on the green during intermission. Since when is standing in a line fun? It was this afternoon as we watched kids take turns on the ponies and then after about 15-20 minutes my granddaughter decided to pass.

Mellow ambiance…BPIR needs to package it in a bottle for rush and bustle times and days. Instead of lavender tinctures, one can spray a bit of BPIR memories around the car…place behind one’s ear, on one’s temple.

Next time I will have to time the intermission or hope someone reads this and sends up a signal— an announcement will do, to folks who want to catch the second half: Deboraha Akin’s Ladies Barrel Racin’, Tianna Jackson’s Junior Barrel Racin’, Relay Racin’ and Myrtis Dightan’s Bull Ridin’ Event.

Yes, I missed a lot, so I will have to go to Bakersfield for Thursday, July 15, 6 PM to see the competition. My younger daughter said she will forgive me for missing her art show reception: "Hears Looking at You" A Visual Essay of Jazz and Blues," at the San Leandro Library 6:30-8:30 PM. Curated by photographer, Kamau Amen Ra, the show is up through July 31, 2010.

BPIR, that same evening, will be at the Kern County Fairgrounds, 1142 S P Street, Bakersfield, CA. Children: $7.00, Adults: $12.00, Box Seats: $15.00. Gloria Patterson is the Bakersfield, CA, Coordinator, (661) 703-7955. Visit

I have to find a friend to come along for the drive.

I hadn’t realized the Black Expo was this weekend as well, July 17-18, 2010, at the Oakland Coliseum. Saturday there is a Job Fair and College Fair and Sunday, there is a Entrepreneurial Think Tank, a Greek Step Show, and the Expo’s Top Chef. Both days feature celebrity concerts with Donnie Williams, Shirley Murdock, Hosea Chanchez (college fair host), Vivica Fox (Expo host). Of course, the opportunity to network with the many vendors is always a plus. Tickets are $8 pre-sale. Parking, at $10 is more than the ticket price, so take public transportation. Coliseum BART is walking distance.

I am happy folks are carrying on our sister C. Diane Howell’s vision. Just as the BPIR offers college scholarships to black youth, so did/does the Bay Area Black Expo. Visit

The BPIR will be in LA country this coming weekend, July 17-18. I'll have to alert my mom and sister so they can take the boys: Christian and Justin and Edwin to check it out.

Since I was late last year, I missed the opening ceremony: the musical rendition of Black National Anthem as a rider rode with Black Liberation flag: red, black and green. The announcer said how this was the flag for black America, when actually this flag represents more than black America, rather it represents Pan Africa or the African Diaspora; however, the American flag is also black America’s because we are American too.

The national show of colors for the branches of the military were represented by cowboys on horses who rode out as they were announced one at a time. Veterans were asked to stand to be honored. The show of patriotism concluded with Miko Marks’s singing of the national anthem.

There are benefits to being on time (smile). Another is the opportunity to get a free cowboy hat, care of one of the many BPIR sponsors. I am looking forward to seeing the rodeo at night in Bakersfield. I wonder if the Allensworth crowd drives down for the black rodeo—black town, black rodeo, kind of a nature, I would think.

The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo lost a key member of their family last month with the death of Linda Belle Lucente, of Phoenix, Arizona, co-founder of the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo. Mrs. Lucente died after suffering a brain hemorrhage June 30, 2010. Her funeral was July 4, 2010 at Tanner AME Chapel on Phoenix. She was 59 years old. Linda co-founded the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo (BPIR) with concert promoter Lu Vason (BPIR President and CEO) in 1984, after introducing Vason to rodeo when she took him, her best friend Joyce Reynolds, her sister Karen Motley, and her two sons Troy and Shane to Cheyenne Frontier Days on July 4, 1977 where they both thought it would be a great idea to produce an all Black rodeo. Thus was born the Bill Pickett Invitation Rodeo. Isn’t it ironic that she would time her departure around the same dates (smile) all too soon for her friends and family, but when we leave is not up to us.

As I said earlier, this year, I was enjoying hanging out once again with the folks. My daughter connected with the parents of some of her former Stockton high school classmates when Bree wanted to ride a horse and the Brotherhood Riders were out in their purple shirts giving kids and adults rides. One of her classmate's fathers remembered her because her name was so unusual. Also, in Stockton at that time, there weren’t that many black families in the suburb just outside the city limits where Bilaliyah's father lived. I could see Bilaliyah trying to figure out how she was going to get Bree to Stockton to ride and participate in the Brotherhood Riders' equestrian program.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a piece I wrote last year in the program. I’m glad Mr. Lu Vason liked my story. I look forward to attending the next event this week and filling folks in on the outcome.

It was cool meeting Sonya Hopkins and her grandmother, 89 (birthday in March) who is visiting from North Carolina (or is it South?). She came up for the rodeo and for one of her relative’s graduation. Sonya certainly did her proud. There were several elders in the arena this afternoon. The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo is a great place to take one’s family members—there isn’t an age that is too old or too young. How many activities are there like this?

I remember when one of the BPIR promoters and educators came to the College of Alameda during Black History Month several years ago. He spoke about the Buffalo Soldiers and the Black History in the West which of course, includes black cowboys…a history many are still ignorant of. It was a great presentation and I wanted to attend that year, but was out of town. I remember rodeos when I was a kid at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, but the rodeos at the Cow Palaces and Country Fairs have nothing on the BPIR. There at those rodeos one might see a few black cowboys—when I was a kid I only remember one or two, no women, no children and not many black people in the audience either. I never even thought about hanging out until dusk talking to the cowboys and their families like I do now at the black rodeo.

I mean, no one kicked us out this afternoon and clearly people needed to pack up and head to the next stop, but the pace was mossey-along-friendly. It seemed like we could hang out as long as we liked, the gate closed only after we went through (smile).

One of the younger contestants, Deon Osborne, is 17. He'd been turned onto riding at a young age. Other contestants were older and some younger and we applauded them all, even if they didn't score. There were no retakes or second chances. I guess rodeo is similar to life...sometimes in life we don't get an opportunity to do something over.

Competing were college students, registered nurses, business executives...the list was varied and extensive regarding the career paths of the cowboys and cowgirls competing.

One of the Brotherhood Riders said sharing his passion with the youth was his "community service," not how he made a living.

Today during the first few events: Bareback and Bull Doggin’ cowboys were not staying on and if they did get a bull roped, they weren’t able to get it on its back and tied. It was tricky and too funny—the animals were winning Sunday afternoon hands down. On the women’s Steer Undecoratin’ the women did a lot better, but again the animals did better. Stephanie Haynes, who was celebrating a birthday, won with a 1.75 second, time sec. I thought I’d heard the announcer say, Kanesha Jackson got 1.7 second, but I guess not. My girl, Sonya Hopkins came in with 2.59 seconds.

Maybe next year I’ll try to follow the rodeo for all its California events. That might be fun. I certainly respect horses and their friends after riding a horse in Haiti up to the Citadel at Cap Haitian.

There were a lot of youngsters riding after the BPIR show…I mean really tiny folks with their parents or grandparents or friends, some all alone. The uninitiated youngsters on the ground looked captivated and entranced. Animal husbandry, something kids involved in the 4-H Clubs and even boys and girl scouts provide a vehicle for kids to learn respect for all life forms, like animals, self-discipline and other values like compassion and responsibility while having fun.

Many adults waiting for rides after the rodeo were decked out in rodeo regalia--six gallon hats, calico shirts, branded belt buckles, spurs and all yet sat trembling in their boots as they awaited their turns. One cowboy told a woman as she sat in the saddle that horses, animals in general, were very smart and could sense if someone was scared.

Her attitude went through an appropriate metamorphosis before she and her companion walked off. After her elevated tour around the grounds, she stepped away from the experience with new confidence.

I remember seeing these kids riding sheep partially shorn. Most didn't stay on its back long, some kids passed and didn't come out of the gate at all. It takes a certain degree of nerve to be a cowgirl or cowboy...this is often before one gains the necessary skills. As we were leaving one horse just lay down in the field and rolled herself over like she had this big itch she needed to shake off. Her owner said the grass was making her horse’s stomach growl, she was that hungry.


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