Thursday, April 13, 2017


40 Years of Guts & Glory

   The Angola Rodeo, the longest running prison rodeo in the nation, got its start in 1965.  The first arena was small, built by a handful of dedicated inmates and personnel.  It wasn't much in those days, and the rodeo was stages just for the entertainment of prisoners and employees.  But it was fun.
   The 1967 rodeo was opened to the general public on a limited basis.  There were no stands.  Spectators had to sit on apple crates and the hoods of their cars to watch the performance.


   The success on the 1967 and 1968 rodeos prompted constructions of a 4,500 seat arena for the 1969 rodeo.  A near disaster occurred when the bleachers collapsed during one of the shows.  Spectators weren't alarmed, most didn't even get up.  They sat on the collapsed structure and continued to watch.  The 1971 rodeo was the wettest in history, but the show went on.
  As years passed, the rodeo grew in size, adding events and sponsorships.  The official Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rules were adopted in 1972 and the rodeo became a permanent fixture.


   The Angola Prison Rodeo is a professionally produced rodeo.  Angola contracts with professional rodeo stock contractors to provide the rodeo stock used in events; professional judges are contracted with to objectively judge each event.  In addition, to ensure inmate participant safety, professional rodeo clowns are always present in the arena during events.  A full complement of emergency services personnel are on site to provide medical assistance to inmate and spectators.


   In 1997, spectator capacity was expanded by 1000 seats and construction of a roof over the seating area began to provide increased comfort for spectators under Louisiana's blazing sun.  Hobbycraft space was also expanded to the point where it is no longer just a little concession area on the side for some inmate organizations to make a few bucks.  It is now an all day, full blown arts and crafts festival, complete with entertainment and food galore.  The arts and crafts festival begins at 9 a.m. and continues throughout the rodeo which begins at 2 p.m. each Sunday in October.  Many fans come to the rodeo for the arts and crafts show alone.


   Ticket, concession, and craft sales for the next two years broke all records, prompting the administration to build another arena.  Construction began on the new stadium in April 2000 and increased capacity to 7,500.  The new stadium was completed for the first rodeo in 2000.
   What began 40 years ago as a "fun" thing by a handful of rodeo loving inmates and employees is now big business.  Proceeds from the Angola Prison Rodeo cover rodeo expenses and supplement the Louisiana State Penitentiary Inmate Welfare Fund which provides for inmate educational and recreational supplies.


Angola Prison Rodeo Charter

   There is widespread recognition today about the Angola Prison Rodeo which was formally established in 1964.
   To clearly define goals and objectives of the Angola Prison Rodeo, the 2003 Angola Prison Rodeo Committee created a Charter, and amended it in March 2006.  This Charter demonstrates the Angola Prison Rodeo Committee's commitment to stewardship of any proceeds derived from the productions of the Angola Prison Rodeo.
   It is assumed that the rodeo was initially established to provide a source of recreation for the inmate populations as well as to provide a source of entertainment for employees of the Louisiana State Penitentiary and the immediate surrounding community.  Eventually, the Angola Prison was expanded to include spectators from the general public.


   Recognizing the potential for the growth of this unique event, since the 1995 rodeo season the Angola Prison Rodeo Committee has strived to provide a professional rodeo production which would prove beneficial to the internal inmate economy, but would also be beneficial to the Parish of West Feliciana tourism industry.  Soliciting help and  cooperation form the inmate populations provided an important mechanism to protect and improve the quality of the Angola Prison Rodeo, both economically and environmentally.
   The objective of the Angola Prison Rodeo remains to provide the prison population at Louisiana State Penitentiary with an opportunity for positive behavior changes.


  1. Grand Entry-Angola Rough Riders enter the arena at full gallop and colors are presented.
  2. Bust out-All six chutes open simultaneously, releasing 6 angry bulls, with temporarily attached inmate cowboys.  The last man to remain on the bull wins the event.
  3. Bareback Riding-Riders are expected to keep one hand in the air, and must stay on the horse for 8 seconds to qualify.
  4. Wild Horse Race-Six wild horses are simultaneously released into the arena with short ropes dragging behind them.  Three-man teams attempt to grab the ropes and hold the horse long enough for a team member to mount.  The first team to cross the finish line while still on top of the horse is the winner.
  5. Barrel Racing-This is the only event in which inmates do not participate.  It is a tour stop for The Girl's Rodeo Association.
  6. Bull-Dogging-The animal is placed in a chute, with two cowboys positioned just outside the chute.  Their job is to wrestle the animal to the ground as quickly as possible.
  7. Buddy Pick-Up-This event requires one man on a horse (riding bareback) to navigate the length of the arena, pick up another inmate who is standing on a barrel, and race back to the finish line.
  8. Wild Cow Milking-Teams of inmate cowboys chase the animals around the arena trying to extract a little milk.  The first team to bring milk to the judge win the prize.
  9. Bull Riding-This dangerous and wide open event is what the fans come to see.  Inexperienced inmate sit on top of a 2,000 pound Brahma bull.  To be eligible for the coveted "All-Around Cowboy" title, a contestant must successfully complete the ride (6 seconds).  The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's rules govern this event.
  10. Convict Poker-Four inmate cowboys sit at a table in the middle of the arena playing a friendly game of poker.  Suddenly, a wild bull is released with the sole purpose of unseating the poker players.  The last man remaining seated is the winner.
  11. Guts & Glory-A chit (poker chip) is tied to the meanest, toughest Brahma bull available.  The object is to get close enough to the bull in order to snatch the chit.  This is the last event of the day, and perhaps the most exciting.


   Doing some shopping , but can't seem to find any ideas for the paranormal investigator in your life?  Here are some very helpful tips and things they may have on their wish lists to help them catch and record paranormal activity.


Thermal Imaging Camera- Got a spare $10,000 laying around?  Yes, thermal imaging technology isn't cheap at all, but it is one of the best tools out there for collecting evidence of paranormal activity.  It senses any and all changes in the ambient air temperature in a room, and you can actually see the anomaly on the screen, outlined in the appropriate color.  It shows how cold or hot an area , object, or anomaly is.  You can find fine used equipment, but it will still set you back anywhere from $6,000 on up!!

Infrared Video Camera- They aren't cheap either, but they are the best video cameras to capture evidence on either tape or digital, although most of the better models are digital.  Infrared cameras are basically night vision.  While you can find the cheaper, less functional night "shot" cameras, they are not the same.  Night "shot" cameras use a dim back light to lighten the area around the camera lens, so it does work to a very small extend.  Actual infrared cameras, or real night vision, transmit an invisible infrared light out into the room, which returns the signal back into the lens, and the images are recorded.  This is a perfect gift for gathering paranormal evidence.


EMF Detector- EMF stands for Electro-Magnetic Field.  What this device does is measure the electrical, magnetic, and radio waves in and around the area you are at.  As with all these devices in this list, there are several varieties you can choose from.  There are analog and digital, as well as gauges with a needle and models with sound.  It is theorized that when an entity is present and trying to manifest itself, it will draw energy from the electromagnetic field in the atmosphere around it.  These meters will detect any and all fluctuations that occur.  There are some models that are made specifically for detecting high altitude UFO's and other upper atmosphere phenomena such as geomagnetic and solar storms.  These meters range in price from $100 up to and beyond $400 for high end models.


Audio recording device for EVP work- EVP stand for Electronic Voice Phenomena.  What that is, is a disembodied voice or noise that is caught on an audio recording device, which you don't hear with the naked ear.  This device can range from a tape or digital recorder, on up to a boom mic set up and even video recorders.  This equipment is fairly inexpensive, but can become pricey for the higher end recording equipment.  Most audio recording devices, that works just fine, range anywhere from $25 up towards $80 dollars.  $50 dollars will get you a nice digital recorder, which will work perfectly


Temperature Scanner- These little devices read the room temperature, showing on the display if there is any fluctuation in air temperature.  Unlike the thermal imaging camera, these don't record the air temperature or show the room in colors.  It merely takes the room temperature and shows it on the display.  Or there are models that have a laser pointer, which will take the temperature in a specific spot.  These range in the area of $60 dollars and up to $300.

Video Camera- Pretty self explanatory here; this device will record any activity in the room.  There are tape and digital versions, and they have a wide price range.  Models usually range anywhere between $100 to a couple thousand dollars.



Still Photography Camera- There are many makes and models.  Again, you will find price ranges up and down the scale.  Do your homework, research before you buy, compare the features/brands for the the best deal and camera for you.



Ultraviolet Flashlight- These lights range from a single LED or bulb, and can be had with as many as 28 LED lights.  The more illumination, the pricier they get.  They are commonly known as "black lights".  They are used to illuminate anomalous activity so it can be seen with the naked eye.  They work very well.  Decent one range anywhere between $50 and $80 dollars.



Books and Videos on Paranormal Topics- It is always entertaining and educational to a paranormal investigator to watch and read of other people's accounts, and other investigators' findings.


Geiger Counter- These instruments measure radiation in roentgens.  What these will do is measure the field of where a UFO has been.  UFO's leave traces, and sometimes more, of radioactive substances in the air and where they have landed on the ground.  It is an essential tool for the UFO-ologist.  They come in digital and analog displays, as well as the old kind with the gauge and needle.  They are relatively inexpensive as well, but as with all, they can get pricey.
   There is the top ten list of gifts for the paranormal investigator.  Maybe you'll get some of these items for someone you know or maybe for yourself.  Then you can go out and SCARE SOMETHING UP!!!!!


    You can't compare it to any other competitive event in the world.  A race over 1150 miles of the roughest, most beautiful terrain Mother Nature has to offer.  She throws jagged mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forests, desolate tundra and miles of windswept coast at the mushers and their dog teams.  Add to that, temperatures far below zero, winds that can cause a complete loss of visibility, the hazards of overflow, long hours of darkness and treacherous climbs and side hills, and you have the Iditarod.
   From Anchorage, in south central Alaska, to Nome on the western Bering Sea coast, each team of 12to 16 dogs and their musher, cover over 1150 miles in 10 to 17 days.


   It has been call the "Last Great Race on Earth" and it has won worldwide acclaim and interest.  German, Spanish, British, Japanese and American film crews have covered the event.  Journalists from outdoor magazines, adventure magazines, newspapers and wire services flock to Anchorage and Nome to record the excitement.  It's not just a dog sled race.  It's a race in which unique men and women compete.  Mushers enter from all walks of life.  Fishermen, lawyers, doctors, miners, artists, natives, Canadians, Swiss, French and others, men and women each with their own story, each with their own reasons for going the distance.  It's a race organized and run primarily by volunteers, thousands of volunteers, men and women, students and village residents.  They man headquarters at Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Nome and Wasilla.  They fly volunteers, veterinarians, dog food and supplies.  They act as checkers, coordinators, and family supporters of each musher.

Northern Route

The Spirit of Alaska!  More Than a Race...a Commemoration

   The race pits man and animal against nature, against wild Alaska at her best and as each mile is covered, a tribute to Alaska's past is issued.  The Iditarod is a tie to a commemoration of that colorful past.
   The Iditarod Trail, now a National Historic Trail, had its beginnings as a mail and supply route from the coastal towns of Seward and Knik to the interior mining camps at Flat, Ophir, Ruby and beyond to the west coast communities of Unalakleet, Elm, Golovin, White Mountain and Nome.  Mail and supplies went in.  Gold came out.  All via dog sled.  Heroes were made, legends were born.
   In 1925, part of the Iditarod Trail became a life saving highway for epidemic stricken Nome.  Diphtheria threatened and serum had to be brought in...again by intrepid dog mushers and their faithful hard driving dogs.
   The Iditarod is a commemoration of those yesterdays, a not so distant past that Alaskans honor and are proud of.

Southern Route

An Event for All Alaska

   Anchorage is the starting line...a city of over 250,000 people, street lights, freeways and traffic.  From there the field of dog teams which grow in number each year run to Eagle River,  Checkpoint #1.  After a restart in the Matanuska Valley at Wasilla, the mushers leave the land of highway and bustling activity and head out to the Yenta Stations Roadhouse and Skewentna and then up.  Through Finger Lake, Rainy Pass, over the Alaska Range and down the other side to the Kuskokwin River...Rohn Roadhouse, Nikolai, McGrath, Ophir, Cripple, Iditarod and on to the mighty Yukon...a river highway that takes the teams west through the arctic tundra.

   The race route is alternated every other year, one year going north through Cripple, Ruby and Galena, the next year south through Iditarod, Shageluk, Anvik.
   Finally, they're on the coast...Unalakleet, Shaktoolik, Koyuk, Elm, Golovin, White Mountain and into Nome where a hero's welcome is the custom for musher number 1 or 61!
   The route encompasses large metropolitan areas and small native villages.  It causes a yearly spurt of activity, increased airplane traffic and excitement to areas otherwise quiet and dormant during the long Alaskan winter.  Everyone gets involved, from very young schools children to the old timers who relive the colorful Alaskan past they've known as they watch each musher and his team.  The race is an educational opportunity and an economic stimulus to these small Alaskan outposts.

   The "I" logo, a trademark of the Iditarod Trail Committee Inc. and the Iditarod Race, was designed by Alaskan artist Bill Devine in the early years of the race.  The design is done on a white background with blue thread for the dog and inner outline.  The Outer outline is done in red.  The design is used on a shield and was used on wooden trail markers in the earlier races.

On the Trail

   Every mushers has a different tactic.  Each one has a special menu for feeding and snacking the dogs.  Each one has a different strategy...some run in the daylight, some run at night.  Each one has a different training schedule and his own ideals on dog care, dog stamina and his own personal ability.


   The rules of the race lay out certain regulations which each musher must abide by.  There are certain pieces of equipment each team  must have...an arctic parka, a heavy sleeping bag, an ax, snowshoes, musher food, dog food and boots for each dog's feet to protect against cutting ice and hard packed snow injuries.
   Some mushers spend an entire year getting ready and raising the money needed to get to Nome.  Some prepare around a full time job.  In addition to planning the equipment and feeding needs for up to three weeks on the trail, hundreds of hours and hundreds of miles of training have to be put on each team.
   There are names which are automatically associated with the race...Joe Redington, Sr., co founder of the classic and affectionately known as "Father of the Iditarod".  Rick Swenson from Two River, Alaska, the only five time winner, the only musher to have entered 20 Iditarod races and never finished out of the top ten.  Dick Mackey from Nenana, who beat Swenson by one second in 1978, to achieve the impossible photo finish after two weeks on the trail.  Norman Vaughan who at the age of 88, has finished the race four times and led an expedition to Antarctica in the winter of 93-94.  Four time winner, Susan Butcher, was the first woman to ever place in the top 10.  And of course, Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod in 1985.