CNR: China Night Rodeo?

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As an avid follower of the regional rodeo circuit and big fan of the rougher side of Idaho living, I have to say that I left the Caldwell Night Rodeo grounds somewhat disappointed on Aug. 19. I came away from this used-to-be-really-rad event with a few gripes:

Chinese-made American flags handed out at the entry.

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A $20 entry fee. That is about double what the rest of the regional rodeos charge for admission.

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A heavier-than-usual corporate presence. The slogan "Where the Cowboys Are the Stars" felt a bit misleading, considering the fact that every inch of CNR real estate was plastered with some sort of banner or logo in chaotic, misplaced fashion. It was tacky and unquestionably took away from the stars.

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The typically "rowdy side"—the east side of the arena—was peppered with not-so-rowdy types. I sat next to an adorable 5-year-old and her family ... not exactly the kind of people you want to chug beers around when the carnage starts. An arena-wide wave didn't help either.

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All-in-all, the CNR was a fun event despite several shortcomings. The calf roping, saddle bronc, bull riding and barrel racing events were truly a joy to watch, and I suspect most people left the rodeo fairly satisfied. If, in the future, the CNR is organized to the same high standard of many years ago, this go-to could be immediately restored to greatness. If not, I'll be looking for a more traditional late-summer rodeo scene elsewhere.

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Andrew Mentzer's personal recreation blog can be viewed at http://backroadmag.com or http://idahostel.com