Since 1964, Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola has been the site of the “Wildest Show in the South.” This unique event was started by inmates and employees of the state’s only maximum-security prison, once known as “The Bloodiest Prison in the World.”
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The Angola Prison Rodeo event draws more than 70,000 people annually during events held on the third weekend of April and the traditional every Sunday in October. 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 800 inmate artists, and tour the massive 18,000 acre prison farm known for its cotton, wheat and corn fields.
Finally, they enjoy a professionally run, nail biting, gut wrenching rodeo featuring events like Convict Poker (four inmates sit motionless holding a deck of cards at a table while a 2,000 pound bull attempts to intimidate them to throw their hands as he “clears” the table). Guts and Glory features inmate participants on foot attempt to pull a poker chip from between a huge bull’s horns before a three minute timer signals the event is over – and the inmates do get airborne!
Angola is also the most toured and visited prison in the world, with an estimated 16,000 coming each year representing all demographic groups of the population. Major media (BBC, CNN, ESPN, ABC, NBC, CBS and more), major motion pictures (Dead Man Walking, Out of Sight and Monster’s Ball recently) and Academy Award nominated documentaries (The Farm and The Wildest Show in the South – The Angola Prison Rodeo) have all captured scenes of the historic prison.
Schedule of Events
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Angola Rough Riders enter the arena at full gallop and colors are presented. 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.
Wild Horse Race
Six wild horses are simultaneously released into the arena with short ropes dragging behind them. Three-man teams attempt to grab the ropes and hold the horse long enough for a team member to mount. The first team to cross the finish line while still on top of the horse is the winner.
This is the only event in which inmates do not participate. It is a tour stop for The Girl’s Rodeo Association. Contestants race their horse in a pattern between three carefully placed barrels. The fastest time wins. Bull-Dogging The animal is placed in a chute, with two cowboys positioned just outside the chute. Their job is to wrestle the animal to the ground as quickly as possible. The team with the best time earns points toward the coveted “All-around Cowboy” award.
A new event that debuted in 2014, Chariot Racing comically employs the principle of centrifugal force that challenges the contestant’s sense of balance with a twist. It can be likened to being pulled by a boat while riding a wakeboard. Contestants, holding a pitcher of water, mount a sled that is pulled at top speed the length of the arena by a horse and rider. Gravity takes over in the turn, as the contestant tries to stay on the sling-shotted sled while not spilling the water. The man who holds on and spills the least amount of water is the winner.
Wild Cow Milking
Teams of inmate cowboys chase the animals around the arena trying to extract a little milk. The first team to bring milk to the judge wins the prize.
This dangerous and wide open event is what the fans come to see. Inexperienced inmates sit on top of a 2,000 pound Brahma bull. To be eligible for the coveted “All-Around Cowboy” title, a contestant must successfully complete the ride (6 seconds). The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rules govern this event.
It’s the ultimate poker game, and even winning has a price. Four inmate cowboys sit at a table in the middle of the arena playing a friendly game of poker. Suddenly, a wild bull is released with the sole purpose of unseating the poker players. The last man remaining seated is the winner.
Guts & Glory
A chit (poker chip) is tied to the meanest, toughest Brahma bull available. The object here is to get close enough to the bull in order to snatch the chit. This is the last event of the day, and perhaps the most exciting.
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NO CELL PHONES/TABLETS WILL BE ALLOWED ON RODEO GROUNDS
ALL BAGS BROUGHT INTO RODEO GROUNDS MUST BE CLEAR AND NO LARGER THAN 12X6X12 INCHES.
SPRING RODEO TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW!
Only rodeo tickets will be sold for $20 at the Spring Rodeo. Once rodeo is sold out, there will be NO HOBBYCRAFT TICKETS SOLD!
2019 Rodeo Dates for OCTOBER are the 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th.
Inmate hobbycraft items are only for sale at Angola Prison Rodeo Events.
Hobbycraft items for sale include: jewelry, leather craft, paintings and woodworking. Souvenir caps and T-shirts are also sold.
Several inmate bands perform (on an alternating schedule) before the rodeo, and the Angola Prison Rodeo Band performs during the entire rodeo starting at 2 p.m.
Various concession stands are spread throughout the grounds. Some of the food items sold include: hamburgers, hot dogs, frito pies, sausage on a stick, pizza, po-boys, tacos & burritos, chicken nuggets, jambalaya, B-B-Q ribs, grilled chicken sandwiches, cracklins, boiled and roasted peanuts, baked potatoes, salads, fried shrimp, fried catfish, nachos, french fries, meat pies, onion rings, pastries, cotton candy, candy apples, ice cream, funnel cakes, snow cones, punch, coffee, soft drinks, bottled water, lemonade, and many more items.
How To Get There
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The Louisiana State Penitentiary is located at the end of Highway 66, approximately twenty-two miles northwest of the town of St. Francisville, Louisiana (Highway 61).
From New Orleans: Take I-10 to Baton Rouge. At exit 155-B, turn right onto ramp towards I-110/Business District/Metro Airport. I-110 ends at US Highway 61. Turn right (North) onto US Highway 61. Travel approximately twenty-six miles to Highway 66. Turn left on Highway 66. Highway 66 ends at the gates of Louisiana State Penitentiary.
From Baton Rouge: Follow I-110 (Martin Luther King Highway) to Highway 61 North (look for exit sign to Natchez/St. Francisville); this is a turn to the right. Travel approximately twenty-one miles to St. Francisville, and then follow the directions given above from St. Francisville.
From St. Francisville: Travel north on Highway 61 for approximately two miles. Shortly after passing the West Feliciana High School (appearing on your right), turn left onto Highway 66 using the turning lane provided. The twenty mile long highway ends at the penitentiary’s front gate.