Real Nebraska Stories: Rodeo Nebraska

Rodeo Nebraska Photo Book Explores Nebraska’s Small-Town Rodeos


Rodeo Nebraska by Mark Harris is now available at Amazon Prime.

 

Eight years ago Mark Harris set out on a mission: to portray Nebraska’s contemporary rodeo culture more artistically and comprehensively in photographs than anyone ever has—and then write a book worthy of the photos. As a result, that book, Rodeo Nebraska, was the 2016 Cover/Design/Illustration award-winner for the Nebraska Center of the Book Awards. At eighty-two events in sixty-two separate locations Harris photographed the competition, the rural crowds, and all things connected with them. He visited ranches that breed broncs, bulls, and speed horses, and spoke to hundreds of competitors. National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore calls the book “a captivating tribute to rodeo like no other.” Harris, a native of McCook, Nebraska, is associate director of the University of Nebraska State Museum at Morrill Hall in Lincoln. His photography has been featured in NEBRASKAland and Nebraska Life magazines, and in the Nebraska History Museum’s Nebraska Cowboys exhibit. The large-format, hardcover book isn’t about big-time rodeo. In its 240 pages you won’t find national circuit events or rodeo stars. The people of Rodeo Nebraska work all week on ranches and farms and compete on weekends. For them, rodeo isn’t a way to make a living. It’s simply part of living. The photos are driven by questions. What brings people to the sport? What is it like to compete in rodeo? How do the winners get so good? Harris gives us action shots, to be sure—bone-crushing falls and majestic rides. But he also turns his camera on the people: the communities that host rodeos and those who participate.


Oakland Rodeo

 

Harris spent many hours talking with rodeo competitors, contractors, rodeo clowns, “bull fighters,” and others involved in the sport. Their stories provide the book’s lively narrative. “Mark Harris forces the reader to do something very unusual in a book of photography: read the words,” says Jeff Kurrus, editor of NEBRASKAland Magazine. “While his images are icing, his memories and observations are where Rodeo Nebraska’s most pleasing treasures lie.” If the book has an underlying message, it’s that rodeo is more than a sport. It is entertaining, but that is not its core purpose. As historian Candy Moulton explains in the book’s foreword, rodeo is a living tradition with deep roots in Nebraska. In words and pictures, Mark Harris does it justice. Rodeo Nebraska by Mark Harris, foreword by Candy Moulton. $34.95, hardcover, 12” x 9.5”, 240 pages. ISBN 978-0-933307-36-0. Available from the NSHS Landmark Stores, 402-471-2062 and Amazon.com, as well as various local booksellers. For a schedule of upcoming Nebraska rodeos and more information about the book, visit RodeoNebraskaBook.com.


Fort Robinson State Park Rodeo

 


What Readers Say

“After eighty-two events in sixty-two separate Nebraska locations, Mark Harris has created a captivating tribute to rodeo like no other.” —Joel Sartore, National Geographic photographer “Mark Harris’s rodeo photographs are simply stunning, particularly because they reveal aspects of this remarkably popular phenomenon that a casual observer never sees, and certainly doesn’t understand. The pictures are art, for sure, but they are more than art in the sense that they clearly show us how involved are entire families. We understand, of course, that modern rodeo is quintessentially western American. Not only are Mark’s photographs truly beautiful, technical masterpieces, but they also reveal everything from the violence to family engagement associated with that beauty. This book is truly collectible!” –John Janovy Jr., Paula and D. B. Varner Distinguished Professor in Biological Sciences, Emeritus, University of Nebraska at Lincoln; author, Keith County Journal “Mark Harris forces the reader to do something very unusual in a book of photography: read the words. While his images are icing, his memories and observations are where Rodeo Nebraska’s most pleasing treasures lie.” —Jeff Kurrus, author and editor of NEBRASKAland Magazine

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