Way Out West (of Lake George): the Painted Pony Rodeo in Lake Luzerne
Nights at the Painted Pony Rodeo should begin with their signature “Rodeo Fries.” Dripping with gravy and mozzarella, this unruly fare embodies all the raw gratification that accompanies a couple of hours around the Painted Pony arena.
Founded in 1953 by Don “Wild Horse” Baxter, the Painted Pony Rodeo has brought a taste of the Wild West to the Adirondacks for 59 years. The cowboys and cowgirls who compete come from all over the country in order to qualify for the American Rodeo Finals in October and the National Rodeo Finals in November.
From June until Labor Day, Painted Pony has multiple shows at their location off Howe Road in Lake Luzerne, just 5 miles west of Lake George.
Following a cowboy prayer, and a collective, bellowing “yee-haw” from the grandstand, the competition opens with bareback and saddle bronc riding, calf and team roping, steer wrestling, and cowgirls’ breakaway and barrel racing. Cash prizes are awarded to the night’s winners.
In-between riding events, the rodeo funny man and MC humor the audience with their wry back and forth exchanges. (Funny man in an Elvis costume: “I wrote a song about Chinese food.” MC: “You wrote a song about Chinese food?” Music starts.)
There are other competitions, too, such as the Painted Pony dance contest featuring members of the audience, who never quite know what they’re signing up for. The winner receives a t-shirt to abate any embarrassment.
At intermission, and throughout the show, the concession stands sell rodeo souvenirs, western clothing, and beers and burgers.
The show concludes with the undisputed favorite: the bull riding. Daring cowboys took turns riding bulls that looked as menacing as their names (Diesel for instance) for at least eight seconds.
The Painted Pony Rodeo has upcoming shows at 703 Howe Rd. in Lake Luzerne on Friday and Saturday, August 10 and 11, and Wednesday, August 15, all which begin at 8 p.m.