God of the Rodeo: The Quest for Redemption in Louisianas Angola Prison by Daniel BergnerNever before had Daniel Bergner seen a spectacle as bizarre as the one he had come to watch that Sunday in October. Murderers, rapists, and armed robbers were competing in the annual rodeo at Angola, the grim maximum-security penitentiary in Louisiana. The convicts, sentenced to life without parole, were thrown, trampled, and gored by bucking bulls and broncos before thousands of cheering spectators. But amid the brutality of this gladiatorial spectacle Bergner caught surprising glimpses of exaltation, hints of triumphant skill.
The incongruity of seeing hope where one would expect only hopelessness, self-control in men who were there because theyd had none, sparked an urgent quest in him. Having gained unlimited and unmonitored access, Bergner spent an unflinching year inside the harsh world of Angola. He forged relationships with seven prisoners who left an indelible impression on him. Theres Johnny Brooks, seemingly a latter-day Stepin Fetchit, who, while washing the wardens car, longs to be a cowboy and to marry a woman he meets on the rodeo grounds. Then theres Danny Fabre, locked up for viciously beating a woman to death, now struggling to bring his reading skills up to a sixth-grade level. And Terry Hawkins, haunted nightly by the ghost of his victim, a ghost he tries in vain to exorcise in a prison church that echoes with the cries of convicts talking in tongues.
Looming front and center is Warden Burl Cain, the larger-than-life ruler of Angola who quotes both Jesus and Attila the Hun, declares himself a prophet, and declaims that redemption is possible for even the most depraved criminal. Cain welcomes Bergner in, and so begins a journey that takes the author deep into a forgotten world and forces him to question his most closely held beliefs. The climax of his story is as unexpected as it is wrenching.
Rendered in luminous prose, God of the Rodeo is an exploration of the human spirit, yielding in the process a searing portrait of a place that will be impossible to forget and a group of men, guilty of unimaginable crimes, desperately seeking a moment of grace.
From the Hardcover edition.
Angola Prison Rodeo – October Dates
Schrift bio Click for larger view View full resolution Figure 1. Angola Prison became infamous as a site of brutality and death. After a long and troubled history, though, the prison is today considered a model prison, not least because of its popular Angola Prison Rodeo and Inmate Arts Festival, held every Sunday in October and one weekend in the spring. Inmates participate in the festival's rodeo hoping to make money by winning events, spend time outdoors, see the public, and briefly interact with loved ones. Photograph courtesy of the author. I passed a robust woman sniffing a perfumed wooden rose with "Mother" etched in lavish script on its heart-shaped stand. Above her hung a copied print of John Wayne next to Tupac Shakur.
Amateur inmate cowboys risk their lives to participate in this dangerous sport in front of five thousand cheering locals. Is this modern-day Roman Circus, or the one time in the year that these convicts have the chance to prove their courage? After college he entered the film business and quickly joined the growing field of music videos, opening his own production company, and directing over a hundred music videos, and concert films for a vast spectrum of artists, mainstream and avantgarde. Soffer then joined forces with Gabriel Films and began directing documentaries. His first documentary which he shot in 16mm, "Rodeo Bullfighter" was immediately picked up by The Discovery Channel and gained high ratings for it's look into the world of rodeo bullfighters.
What began in as a small rodeo staged for the entertainment of prisoners and employees has grown over the years and has strived to provide a professional rodeo production, proving beneficial to the internal inmate economy but also to the West Feliciana Parish tourism industry, a news release said. In , the rodeo officially opened to the public, but there were no stands; spectators sat on apple crates or on the hoods of their vehicles. The success of the and rodeos prompted construction of a 4,seat arena in time for the rodeo. The rodeo grew in size over the years and added events and sponsorships. In , the official Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rules were adopted, and the Angola rodeo became a permanent fixture.
Title: The Wildest Show in the South: The Angola Prison Rodeo (). The Wildest Show in the South: The Angola Prison Rodeo () on IMDb /
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The Wildest Show in the South: The Angola Prison Rodeo
Spectators from all walks of life from nearly all corners of the globe come to hear great inmate bands, sample authentic Cajun and regional foods such as boudin, crawfish and cracklins, shop affordable, high quality arts and crafts from over inmate artists, and tour the massive 18, acre prison farm known for its cotton, wheat and corn fields. Angola is also the most toured and visited prison in the world, with an estimated 16, coming each year representing all demographic groups of the population. Bust Out All six chutes open simultaneously, releasing six angry bulls, with temporarily attached inmate cowboys. The last man to remain on the bull wins the event. Riders are expected to keep one hand in the air, and must stay on the horse for eight seconds to qualify.