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America’s first rodeo cowboys might just be rolling over in their 200-year-old graves.

The sport they knew as a backbreaking necessity has since been transformed into a multi-million-dollar entertainment industry. In the 1800s, after Spanish conquistadors introduced horses to the Americas, cattlemen adopted rodeos as a means of sorting and rounding up their herds.

Today, the open range has been replaced by cities and suburbia and many rodeos are held in larger than life stadiums. Still, the rodeo tradition has survived, attracting upwards of 50,000 fans at its biggest events across the country.

From a small-town rodeo where admission used to be $.90 to a 10-day event with more than $3 million in prize money, here are eight rodeos worth dusting off your cowboy hat for this summer.



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