As 'Rodeo Town USA', Sidney draws thousands annually for Iowa's Championship Rodeo

"This ain't my first rodeo" is an idiom (figure of speech) usually meant to convey that someone is not a novice or inexperienced at something.


For me, in literal terms, I really did attend my first rodeo in early August of 2019 in Sidney.


When I visited last summer for the 96th annual event, COVID-19 had not yet even started to rear its ugly head. Now, nearly a year later and despite many other things cancelling, Sidney is set to host the 97th annual event in late July and early August (as it is every year).

Sidney has dubbed itself "Rodeo Town USA" and for nearly 100 years has annually hosted Iowa's Championship Rodeo.

Sidney is the county seat (meaning where the courthouse is) of Fremont County, our state's furthest southwest county. This was, for what I can recall, my first ever visit to Sidney. Based on what I saw, I definitely need to get back to do some more exploring. As you can see, the town square has a lot of character and and I appreciate that they really lean into their western and rodeo roots.

Many of the buildings have gorgeous architecture or have had elements added to make them look more western-like. If you are going to proclaim yourself to be a rodeo town, you better look like it. Sidney succeeds here.

The Silver Spur looks like an interesting place and I did not have time to pop in, but will add it to the list for a future visit.

The historic Fremont County Courthouse anchors the downtown square.

There are a couple of big old spectacular trees on the grounds.

The downtown also includes a number of different art installations. The light poles include decorated boots and banners.

There are also other metal boot sculptures.

I especially like this one which is sponsored by the Fremont County Farm Bureau.

I am delighted to see that Sidney still has some cobblestone streets. Some towns in Iowa (e.g. Primghar even though the community celebration is called Cobblestone Days) are removing them and replacing them with concrete pavement. I know they may require some additional upkeep responsibilities, but they certainly do add more than a touch of character.

I spotted a sign directing me to where the rodeo arena is located. It is on the far western side of town.

Over several days of events and nights of rodeo performances, the event brings thousands of spectators from all over...and not just Iowa. To accommodate that many people, you need a large parking area. Keep in mind, Fremont County borders both Missouri and Nebraska.

There is also a distant area where a number of workers and rodeo participants park their rigs.

There are teams of people who help to direct and park vehicles.

Tractors with pedestrian wagons drive around to help move those who want a lift from the parking lot to the ticket counter.

The arena is near the town's water tower.

You can either get a ride or walk up to the ticket building.

I went with two of my friends and we had general admission tickets. Our seats were perfectly fine. That said, if you really want to see the bull riding up close, I'd spend the extra money for the higher priced seats as most of the action related to that happens on that end of the arena. You can buy tickets at the door or online.

Once inside, you realize that there is absolutely no shortage of vendors selling everything from food and drink to cowboy hats, cologne, and even cars. It's more than a rodeo event - it's got a festival or fair feel to it.

A couple of the food vendors appeared to be county area vendors. For example, the Fremont County Cattlemen had a food trailer.

Others food vendors seemed as though they were type that travel all over to festivals, fairs, rodeos, and other similar events.

I'd never seen this lemonade vendor before. It kind of looked like a lemon "clam".

Of course, there is also alcohol for sale.

If you showed up and wanted to get outfitted with all kinds of western wear, there were several vendors available to help you with that. From boots and belts to hats and handbags, I saw both some very stylish stuff...and maybe some slightly hokey stuff.

These particular hats were maybe more on the hokey side of things...but I can appreciate a little fun.

But even if you didn't need one of these wild bedazzled hats to look good, you could walk over to another vendor to buy some cologne to smell good.

A local automobile dealership (from Red Oak) also brought over some vehicles for attendees to take a look at.