By Lincoln Shryack
The threat of Hurricane Nate in Louisiana over the weekend led the Angola Rodeo to shut down for the first time in 53 years. The nation’s oldest prison rodeo, held every Sunday throughout October at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, began in 1965 and features inmates competing in traditional and non-traditional rodeo events.
Most of the competitors at Angola have little to no experience in the events, but the rodeo is special for fans and inmates alike. The competition is an exhilarating chance for inmates to let loose; approximately 75 percent of them will be at the prison for life.
The rodeo provides supplemental income for the largest maximum security facility in the nation. Refunds were issued to fans of the popular show, which routinely raises $450,000 per night. The proceeds go to support the rodeo and the inmates through the Louisiana State Penitentiary Inmate Welfare Fund.
The event also serves as an incentive for the prisoners, as only those with exemplary behavior are allowed to participate. In addition, the winner of the night’s thrilling finale, “Guts and Glory,” receives $300. The money goes to the inmate who can swipe a poker chip off the horn of a 2,000-pound bull.
Hurricane Nate, which was downgraded to a tropical depression on Monday, made landfall in the southeastern portion of Louisiana on Saturday, causing storm surge along the Gulf Coast and forcing officials to issue evacuation orders. Despite Nate’s downgrade, prison officials weren’t taking any chances. The rodeo will resume as scheduled on October 15, with two more shows to follow on October 22 and 29.
On Saturday, President Trump declared a state of emergency in Louisiana and Mississippi.