Passages …. Ode to an Arena

Since 2010, I’ve been honored to cover the Williamson County Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo in Georgetown, Texas for the Williamson County Sun.    On that first visit almost eight years ago this month, I was enchanted by the venerable arena near San Gabriel Park.   It spoke to how rodeo arenas need to look.   But even in 2010, I heard its days were numbered.   The land on which it rests belongs to the City of Georgetown, which leased the space many years ago.   That space was first utilized for the sport in the 1940s, with the current arena brought on in the 50s.   Growing up in Texarkana, a treat was going the Four States Fair & Rodeo, adjacent to Spring Lake Park.   The arena there was reminiscent of Georgetown’s.   I’ve not lived in Texarkana since the early 70s, when I left for college, then traveled east with my career.   During that time, Texarkana’s event moved across the state line, into Arkansas.   The Texas-side arena, I suppose is gone.   Here’s the thing.   I’m not a cowboy.  Pointy-toed cowboy boots are in no way comfortable.    Heck, I’ve only been on a horse’s back maybe two times in almost 66 years of life.   But I appreciate the atmosphere of these old spaces.  This year’s Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo, its 75th, will be its swan song.   Organizers are looking for another home for their rodeo.   In my town, Taylor, a few miles east, there’s the Williamson County Expo Center, a lovely facility, but more costly.  And, I have to say, it lacks the charm of Georgetown’s.   The story I read in the Sun today says Georgetown’s arena will be demolished next year. Knowing the end was near, I asked a Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo for access to the arena in early-March.  My goal were simply portraits of the arena, no horses, no cowboys, no fans.  A couple of those are presented here, along with a photo taken at the 2017 rodeo, cowboys waiting for their turns.   That photo is on my current business card.  Georgetown is a wonderful city, one of the fastest-growing in the United States.   I suppose, as the population evolves, things change.   The plan, apparently, is to place a festival space on the site of the arena.   Progress, I guess, but I don’t like it.

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