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rodeo(rō`dēō, rōdā`ō), public exhibition of the skill of cowboys in various activities. Events include riding broncos, riding steers, "bulldogging" steers, roping and tying steers and calves, the use of the lasso, and other less closely related activities such as contests of marksmanship. The rodeo was originally merely an adjunct to the roundup, a contest of skill between various cow hands, but the spectacle became popular in the late 1880s and 90s and gradually took on more and more of the aspects of a circus. Today there are many professional rodeo performers who spend their time going from one exhibition to another. There are annual rodeos at many places in the West; in the East the rodeos normally travel like the circus and take place in indoor arenas.
See C. P. Westermeier, Man, Beast, Dust (1947, repr. 1987); M. S. Robertson, Rodeo (1961); F. Schnell, Rodeo (1971); K. Fredriksson, American Rodeo (1985).