Dakota Evans stands to the side of the rodeo pen with a cowgirl’s swagger; she leans on the fence with cigarette loosely in hand, eyes hidden behind blue-tinted sunglasses. The twenty three year old’s horse stands next to her, similarly indifferent to the spectacle.
“My mom has always done it since she was a kid. When she was pregnant with me she did it and won everything so I guess it kind of runs in my blood to do it,” Evans said.
Evans is a barrel racer and polebender, both challenges which demand weaving a horse through a pattern of obstacles at high speeds. Her younger brother does it too. She made good times, but not under the conditions she prefers.
“I’m using my little brother’s saddle because I didn’t think I was going to be riding today, so I’m riding his saddle… he’s doing pretty good- stumbled a little bit but he’s doing all right,” Evans said.
Competitive riding is definitely the main attraction, but it’s far from the only draw. Kodiak’s September 5 rodeo was hosted by professionals who MC rodeos around the country. Pierre “Chili Pepper” Perez is a self-described “funny man” who has travelled from far-off Texas to tell jokes and work up the crowd.
“I just think I was kind of thrown to the wolves per se. And I guess I did pretty good because everybody was like, ‘man, you hot, you’re on fire- like a chili pepper!’ And now the story so goes,” Perez said.
His wide smile and good humor make him naturally predisposed to the job. This is far from his first rodeo, although he remembers his first rodeo on Kodiak fondly.
“The very first time I came out here, there was a bull that had gotten out called snowflake. And he busted through the- oh yeah, he jumped the fence. He busted through all the chute to hit people’s cars in the parking lot- he gored a horse. We ended up roping him off the back of a truck with a four-inch tow strap,” Perez said.
Perez says that the Kodiak Rodeo is one of his favorites on his circuit.
“Well, what I really truly love about the Kodiak Rodeo is the home feel of it. You know everybody’s pitching in, that nobody’s afraid to pull out some elbow grease and get to work and to just make this whole thing really come together. It’s just good, wholesome family fun,” Perez said.
Several hundred people attended the rodeo, which is now in its 51st year. The rodeo is organized by the Kodiak Rodeo and Fairgrounds, which is a nonprofit. The first rodeo was held in 1968, on the site of the old experimental dairy farm in Kalsin Bay.