The broncs and the bulls are coming to Anaheim. Not the NFL or NBA variety, though -- real bucking broncs and angry bulls, with real cowboys holding on for dear life. The rodeo is coming to town.
The Justin Boots Bucking Thunder tour, in its first year after a debut event last October drew 10,000 spectators in Phoenix, Ariz., makes one of its four stops on June 22 at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim. The Bucking Thunder is not a full rodeo, but a stripped-down touring version featuring just the four most popular events: bareback bronc, saddle bronc, bull riding and barrel racing, an event in which women compete by racing quarter horses around barrels placed throughout the arena.
Event promoter Alan Jacoby, 47, grew up in Queens; his grandfather was a rabbi, his father, a top-ranked tennis player. Jacoby himself started out in tennis, promoting tournaments before going on to help found Golf Digest magazine and then working in promotions for ESPN.
While working at the network in the late '80s, Jacoby recalled, "They got this Jewish kid from New York, they said 'Let's send him out to the rodeo.'" Though he says he had "only been on a horse once before, at day camp," Jacoby was impressed by the size of the crowds. "I did some research; Las Vegas [in December], was dead. But the two weeks the rodeo was there, was one of their busiest times of the year." Soon, he moved his family out west to Scottsdale, Ariz. and started producing his own rodeos.
"Rodeo is really America's original sport," Jacoby says. "It's a sport where the cowboys still tip their hats when they meet a lady." Though he admits "there's not many Jewish people in the rodeo business," he says "it's never been a problem."