by Visit Ventura
Featured image by Maya Sacks
Surfers competing in vests and cowboy hats (and you never know who they’ll be; 11-time world champ Kelly Slater has shown up, just because the Surf Rodeo has an underground rep for plain fun), greased pig paddles, hay bale obstacle races, mechanical bulls, and musical stages scattered across the beach (over 30 bands this year). Now in its 11th year, there isn’t anything like Ventura’s two-day Surf Rodeo festival (coming July 13th and 14th at the Ventura Pier) anywhere. Started by Ventura local John Drury (thank you, JD) as an antidote to all things serious (most notably, cut-throat surf contests), the Surf Rodeo has succeeded wildly at being wildly askance. Added spice, folks like Kelly Slater and Jack Johnson just show up. Yes, Jack played.
At first glance, cowboys and surfers might seem an odd mix. Until, in Surf Rodeo style, you give it askance thought, and true wisdom dawns (Also true that Ventura — with its rich agricultural and surf heritage — is one of the rare places where surfers and cowboys are one and the same).
Six surf-rodeo connections to ponder (because that’s enough)…
1. Cowboy wisdom could easily be surfer wisdom.
“Courage is being scared to death – and saddling up anyway.”
“Sometimes you get and sometimes you get got.”
“You can’t tell how good a man or a watermelon is ’til they get thumped.”
2. Surfers and cowboys know humility and perspective (please refer to above thumping).
Tossed by a wave, tossed by a bull. In the cartwheel moment, one understands one’s inability to control anything.
3. Perhaps because they have substantial experience with humbling elements, surfers and cowboys are rarely afflicted with inflated self-importance.
As the cowboy-ism goes, “If you get to thinking you’re a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else’s dog around.”
4. Surfing and cowboying are worth doing simply because there’s only so much time.
5. If they are cornered and pressed, surfers and cowboys can philosophize about their chosen lifestyle.
“What the surfer knows, in knowing how to ride a wave, bears on questions for the ages — about freedom, control, happiness, society, our relation to nature, the value of work and the very meaning of life,” wrote philosophy professor and surfer Aaron James.
Or maybe surfers are just fun-hogging tube junkies, and cowboys are small children escaping on big horses.
6. Don’t take any of this philosophizing seriously.
Surfers don’t delve too deep and cowboys don’t either, and there is a deepness in that.
As Jeff Spicoli aptly put it, “All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine.”
Or, as JD has said, “We try and remind ourselves we are all out for the same thing, to just have fun…”
Here’s your chance — tickets and info at surfrodeo.org