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Official Review by Chris Green, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Homestead Championship Rodeo has been thrilling South Florida fans for decades. 2015 marked the 66th year of this annual sporting tradition, and it brought with it the same thrills and spills that has attracted sold out arena crowds since the very first year.
Unique in the fact that it is the southernmost professional rodeo in the continental United States, the Homestead Championship Rodeo is held annually. usually either the last week in January or in early February.
The facility is the Doc DeMilly Rodeo Arena, nestled inside Harris Field in Homestead, Florida.
Unlike any other sporting event in the South Florida area, this event truly is a hidden gem and features some of the most exciting action you will ever see in Miami.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Fresh-roasted, locally-grown corn on the cob. Grilled burgers, sausages, or hot dogs. Gryros. Freshly popped popcorn. Barbecue that makes even the most experienced griller's mouth water. Traditional fair fare (elephant ears, cotton candy, etc.). All of this and more is available, and all at reasonable prices that don't break your bank.
Additionally, most food sales go partly to some charity, whether it be beer sales for wounded veterans or soda and popcorn to benefit the local boy scout troop.
One thing is for sure; you will NOT leave here hungry.
Rodeo is traditionally known as a thrilling sport for many reasons. The atmosphere at the Homestead Championship Rodeo reflects that.
The first day of competition comes on Friday night, also known as "tough enough to wear pink night" to raise awareness for cancer research. Under the stadium lights, cowboys and cowgirls put everything they can into their performances, laying it all on the line for the highest score they can get. Saturday and Sunday afternoon competitions bring with them the same thrills.
Bull riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing, and more provide fans with plenty of opportunities to cheer on the riders. And with the seats so close to the arena, it feels as if you're right on top of the action. The roar of the crowd can be deafening when a top scoring ride is put in.
Everyone from children to their grandparents are seen with smiles on their faces in what is truly a quality family event.
Homestead is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, and the people who live there are a great cross section of what makes Miami so diverse. With the Homestead Championship Rodeo situated right on the corner of the busiest intersection in town, you're just a stone's throw from everything. Across the street is a Publix shopping center that also has a CVS, Starbucks, Party City, and more.
Diagonally across from the park is a Walgreens, Sedanos, and Ruby Tuesday. The Homestead Library is on the other side of US1 from the park, as well.
Harris Field itself also is home to the YMCA and numerous youth softball and baseball fields, filled with families watching little leaguers fall in love with the game. Indeed, if you're looking for a good place to put a sporting event, there aren't many places that are better than where Harris Field is located.
Since the beginning, Homestead has been a farming town. At its core, farmers and country folk are what have built the town. Additionally, there is a great Hispanic influence as well, with their cowboy heritage playing a critical part in the growth of their community. This all shines through in the fans that visit Homestead's rodeo grounds every year. Fans flock from all around South Florida to the rodeo, with an international flair added, as well. Canadian snowbirds often take in the event in great numbers.
Whenever a rider puts on a good show, the fans clap and cheer in kind, urging them to keep going.
At any time, you can be sitting next to the most hardcore professional rodeo fan, or a mother and her kids who wanted to enjoy the outdoors on the weekend.
Getting to the Homestead Championship Rodeo is not difficult. Harris Field sits on the corner of US1 and SW 312th Street/Campbell Drive, the two biggest roads in town. Anyone coming from the south will drive right past the arena, making it easy to find. Harris Field is also just a few miles off the Florida Turnpike, as Exit 2 drops drivers right onto SW 312th Street/Campbell Drive.
Public transportation is also an option, with both the metro bus and the free Homestead trolley passing right in front of Harris Field. The busway is a two-minute walk from Harris Field, making a trip from the north down the metrorail and the busway easy, as well.
Parking is plentiful at Harris Field, and when it fills up, the farmer's field that borders the south side of the arena is used for overflow.
While ticket prices have risen in the past decade, the quality of the product certainly hasn't dropped. An annual tradition, the Homestead Championship Rodeo is arguably the most engrained local event there is in South Florida. Nothing comes close. Fans never leave with anything short of a smile, and it is easy to see why.
The sporting aspect of the Homestead Championship Rodeo creates thrilling drama and excitement on par with anything else in South Florida.
The midway areas of the arena also present a great opportunity to pick up a copy of the local newspaper, the South Dade News Leader, get that new pair of cowboy boots or that new belt buckle you have wanted, or to ride the mechanical bull. Fans can even get up close and personal with horses by the paddock.
There certainly are a lot of extras to check out when the Homestead Championship Rodeo comes to town.
First comes on the Wednesday night before the the event weekend when the Buck Off Competition takes place on the rodeo grounds. Nestled inside the middle of the arena, anyone who wants to take a shot at the best time on a mechanical bull can put their skills to the test. It is a fun and free event that usually provides plenty of laughs.
Next comes Thursday night at the annual crowning of Miss Homestead Rodeo Queen. The annual contest provides scholarships to local girls who sell the most pre-sale tickets for the rodeo every year.
Another bonus is the announcing talents of Wayne Brooks, the world-renowned rodeo host who has been named the PRCA Announcer of the Year four times (2005, 2010, 2013, 2014). Partnered with the rodeo clown in the arena throughout the weekend, Brooks provides some of the best announcing there is.
Another thrill is the arrival of the US Army Golden Knights. While the world's premier skydiving and parachute team takes up residence at nearby Homestead Air Reserve Base every spring for their annual spring training cycle, part of their practice includes jumping in to the Homestead Championship Rodeo before Saturday and Sunday's performances. After they arrive, they stick around to take photos and sign autographs for fans.
Perhaps the biggest extra, however, is the annual Homestead Rodeo Parade. Arguably the biggest parade of its kind in South Florida, it is held every year on the morning of that corresponding Saturday during the rodeo weekend, snaking up Krome Ave through historic downtown Homestead and then down Campbell Drive.
If you are looking for a quaint but quality sports experience that is out of the box, look no further than the Homestead Championship Rodeo at Harris Field's Doc DeMilly Rodeo Arena.
This family friendly tradition has been thrilling fans for years and years, making it a must see event for residents from the Keys to Ft. Lauderdale.
Whether you're there for the thrills and spills of rodeo or for getting to expose yourself to some of the local culture of South Dade, it is hard to argue the merits of this one-of-a-kind event.
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