You are here


Urban Cowgirl

Trick riders, fireworks, children’s activities, and fair food round out the offerings at Tommie and David Derry’s Double D Arena, which has hosted the family event (i.e., no alcohol) on Mother’s Day weekend since 1990.

April 28, 2010

Urban Cowgirl
Looking for a unique way to spend Mother’s Day? Senior editor Melissa Bigner took her adventurous mom to the Walterboro Rodeo

WRITTEN BY Melissa Bigner
photographs Courtesy of Tommie Derry
Rodeo clowns keep audiences entertained between shows by International Professional Rodeo riders, who compete to earn a place in the National Finals.

Every spring as wildflowers crop up in the ditches of Highway 17 and signs for the annual Walterboro Rodeo pop up alongside them, I take notice. Because, despite the hour-long haul from town and the late night (it starts at 8 p.m.), that daggum rodeo has all the trappings of the ideal weekend ramble for me.

For starters, heading to Walterboro gets me out of the city and the norm. Upon arriving at the huge rural field where Double D puts on their show, I get to climb into horseshoe-configured bleachers to take in big country skies, the scents of the coming season—like fresh grass crushed under heels, hooves, and wheels—and sights galore. Then, the vicarious thrills of seeing gals race their horses ’round barrels; teams lasso and wrestle steers to the ground; and men hang rag-doll-like to bulls or bucking horses while aiming for eight-second glory makes the kids squeal, the crowd gasp, and me holler. Add the food—steak vendors sell gingham-patterned paper trays of beef tips, roasted potatoes, and pretty much any other cow dish you can imagine—and it’s ramble heaven.

Last year, I took my mom to the Walterboro Rodeo for a Mother’s Day surprise. Maybe that’s not your typical Mom’s Day fare, but she’s not your typical madre. She, whose teen riding lessons were at the Royal Riding Ground Complex on castle grounds in her native Copenhagen, was the one who taught me when to hang up my English helmet and bring on the swagger. She likely instilled my love of rambling, too, as she has explored this big ol’ country like only a true and curious immigrant can.

So as for our jaunt: Yes, she hiked up into the bleachers. Yes, she bonded with the surrounding 10-gallon set. Yes, I brought her beef tips and a funnel cake. And yes, she hollered with the best of them. But alas, my mother did not, like many of the moms, hit the corral dirt for the annual attendee calf chase. (For the uninitiated, rodeo organizers tie a red bow to a calf’s tail, and kids race after the thing trying to nab the ribbon and immense honor. Moms go second, and they, too, stumble about till they’re covered in dust and mud, the calf surrenders, and the bow is snatched. The winner gets roses and a gift certificate for dinner out—I’m guessing it’s to a steak joint.)

My mom seems to draw the line at the tenuous point where hilarity teeters on humiliation. But then again, after a couple of decades stateside, the woman’s soaked up her share of cowgirl. Heck, she even became an American citizen recently. So maybe there’s some hope for a red ribbon this year. A rambling daughter can only dream.

21st Annual Walterboro Rodeo at the Double D Arena. May 7 & 8, Friday & Saturday, 6 p.m. gates open; 8 p.m. show. $15; $13 advance; free for child under 11. (843) 893-3894, (843) 909-4849.

For more information, click here.


Wed, 04/28/2010