Homestead rodeo — the southernmost rodeo in the continental United States — is Jan. 29-30, 2016.
If you travel around the Sunshine State, you also learn about a rich history of cattle ranching and “cow hunters” — what Florida called its Cracker cowboys, who “hunted” cattle by rounding them up with distinctive-sounding bullwhips.
So, it is not all that surprising that Florida has a rich history of rodeos in its small towns. One of the longest lasting traditional rodeos and the southernmost rodeo in the United States is in Homestead.
The Homestead Rodeo celebrates its 67th year in 2016. It’s one of the first rodeos in the circuit of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Assn., and thus draws cowboys from around the country who want to start accumulating points toward the December national finals.
The rodeo is a mix of professional rodeo events and small-town celebration.
Seven championship events are featured; bare-back and saddle bronco riding, tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling, cowgirls’ barrel racing and the crowd-pleasing bull riding.
In between events, there is entertainment including the Homestead Everglades Posse Precision Mounted Drill team and the crowning of the Homestead Rodeo Queen.
Homestead Rodeo details:
- Times: 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 29, 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30 and 2 p.m. Sunday Jan. 31, 2016.
- Admission is $20 adults, $5 for kids.
- There is a free rodeo parade at 11 a.m. in downtown Homestead on Saturday.
More things to do in Homestead:
- Knaus Berry Farm. The Knaus family has operated a farm and bakery in the Redland for 50 years. When the storefront farm stand opens for the season in late October, folks start lining up. The cinnamon rolls (80 cents each) are dense, rich and gooey and people go to extraordinary lengths to buy them. Read more about visiting Knaus Berry Farm.
- Robert Is Here. Famous for its fresh-fruit milk shakes, exotic fruits and vegetables, its petting zoo and general fun atmosphere, visit funky Robert Is Here on your way to nearby Everglades National Park.
- Love flowers? Free tours of R.F. Orchids in the nearby Redland area are a must for orchid lovers.
- Fruit and Spice Park, a Miami Dade park that showcases exotic fruit trees. There are always some to sample in the visitor’s center.
- Schnebly Redland’s Winery, the southernmost winery in the U.S., which makes exotic tropical fruit wines and craft beers. Beverages are served in a lovely shaded open-air space overlooking a fountain.
- Also in the Redland, Cauley Square is a historic village under a canopy of tropical trees that grew up around the railroad depot built in 1903. The historic buildings are now filled with shops, galleries and restaurants. The shopping is not extensive; but Cauley Square is worth a short visit for the Tea Room and the Aviary Bird Shop.Cauley Square Historic Village, 22400 Old Dixie Highway, Goulds.
- Of course, you’re moments from the Homestead entrance to Everglades National Park. Here’s a Florida Rambler guide to visiting the Everglades National park.
Lodging & camping:
- There is camping in Everglades National Park, of course. Reserve a campsite on ReserveAmerica
- I hear good things about the inexpensive Everglades International Hostel.
- A long-time local businessman bought the Hotel Redland in downtown Homestead and has turned the 1904 hotel into a bed and breakfast with a good home-cooking restaurant in it. I’ve stayed there and found it to be a friendly place. There are a few rough edges, but it is clean, quiet and full of local character.
- Hotels in Homestead