The gates opened and a brown calf charged out, followed closely by a cowboy on horseback; the cowboy threw a lasso, aiming for the calf’s neck, but missed.
“He’s going to get nothing here in Marshfield in 2018,” an announcer told the crowd, as the cowboy rode back to the starting corral to the shouts of the crowd and winning a “no time” score for the tie-down roping event. “Can we give him a round of encouragement so he comes back next year?”
The rider was one of 82 competitors at the 2018 North Star Pro Rodeo, held Saturday and Sunday at the Marshfield Fairgrounds. Other events at the two-day rodeo included saddle and bareback bronc riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, team roping and barrel racing.
“A lot of the stuff we do at rodeo is stuff we do on an everyday basis,” said Michele North, owner of North Star Farm in Norwell, which has organized the rodeo in Marshfield for the past four years. She said that activities like wrangling cattle and breaking horses is standard farm work, not just entertainment.
North also said the rodeo is part of the First Frontier Circuit, a series of professional rodeos on the East Coast, and the only professional event in the state. Many of the cowboys live in Massachusetts and compete to be able to go to the Wrangler National Finals in Las Vegas in December.
“It’s really hard to get it to take off up here, because people don’t know what rodeo is,” North said. “They don’t know what a great show it is, and that it’s all professional.”
Despite this, the stands were packed with spectators of all ages, many wearing cowboy hats and boots. Kids got to test out their skills with pony rides, and adults cheered on the competitors, watched performers do rope tricks and trick riding.
Jen Fairfield of Norwell came on Sunday with her husband, Dan, their neighbor, Andrew Bonica, and Bonica’s two young daughters, Emma and Gracie. She said that they were enjoying it, despite never having been to a rodeo before.
“We never thought we could see something like this in Marshfield,” Fairfield said.
Other spectators were rodeo veterans, like Fabio DeOlevera of Weymouth and Nick Alves of Lowell, who stood together wearing western shirts, hats and boots while watching the events.
“It’s my favorite sport,” DeOlevera said.
North said she hopes to donate proceeds from the event to the Scituate VFW, after donating to other local charities in the past. But more than just a charity event, she said that the rodeo is a great way for people to learn about a lifestyle not usually associated with Massachusetts.
“There’s a lot more local cowboys than anyone thinks,” she said.