It’s not easy being royalty. Just ask Kamilla Boles–Kami to her friends; Ms. International Gay Rodeo Association to us. She’s a member of the IGRA Royalty Team and will be donning her royal sash to prove the point this weekend when the 2012 Sunshine Stampede turns Fort Lauderdale into the rodeo capital of the world–or close to it.
From its host hotel base at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Airport, 1870 Griffin Road in Dania Beach to the Bergeron Rodeo Grounds on Davie Road in Davie, the 2012 Sunshine Stampede is a four-day event that mixes klitz and gravel. “I’ll be in the dirt,” Kami laughs, referring to her royal stint at the rodeo competition where she’ll act as Assistant Arena Crew Coordinator under Barry Richardson, who’s from the Missouri Gay Rodeo Association (MGRA)—which Kami represented when she won her crown.
“I came to the Sunshine Stampede last year as a competitor from Missouri where I got my start with the gay rodeo and royalty program as Ms. Missouri Gay Rodeo Association. Last year at the rodeo, I was one of three Women’s Junior Bull Riders,” Kami told Guy Magazine. “Unfortunately, after my ride I was out of commission for the remainder of the weekend. But the Florida Gay Rodeo Association took great care of me.”
The appreciation seems to be mutual. “My girlfriend is the vice-president of the FGRA, and the Assistant Rodeo Director. In the short time I have been back in Florida, the association has made feel at home and part of the family,” Kami said.
Thursday night, the party begins with “Rhinestones & Wranglers,” an all-star celebration featuring 17 performers from the local Fort Lauderdale/Miami talent pool as well as IGRA and state titleholders. Look for Kami, ‘cause she’ll be there working the room, along with Nicolas Isaac Wells St. John, MsTer IGRA 2nd Runner-up. The fundraiser runs from 9 to 11 p.m. at The Manor in Wilton Manors, with no cover charge.
Friday afternoon, the Welcome Pool Party and Mixer runs from 2-6:30 p.m. at the Hilton pool deck. It’s your chance to meet the cowpokes and cowgirls that have followed the sun to Fort Lauderdale. There is a c
ash bar at this non-ticketed event, which is immediately followed by Rodeo Registration in the hotel’s ballroom from 6-9 p.m.
Friday is a busy night with the HomoRodeo.com Meet-and-Greet Party and Model Search happening at the Stable, 205 E Oakland Park Blvd. in Oakland Park, from 7-11 p.m. Scrub up and see if you make the cut as a model for the latest “Men of HomoRodeo.com” calendar. HomoRodeo.com is an off-shoot of gay.com’s cowboy chat room.
The official Opening Night Parties are split between two venues this year. Both Ramrod and Tropics will be official host bars for opening night, with free shuttles available to move cowboys—and girls—between the two clubs. 9 p.m. until closing.
Saturday is the first day of the Rodeo Competition. For first-time riders, there is a mandatory meeting at 8:30 a.m. at the Bergeron Rodeo Grounds. Gates open for ticketholders at 8:45 a.m. with the first round of riding events scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Tickets for the rodeo are $15 in advance, $20 on the day of the event. There a special package offer as well: both days for $25 in advance, $35 on the day of. For those whose cowboy boots were made for prancing, the Midway Tent opens for dancing and entertainment at 1 p.m.
Saturday night you can expect the traditional Hoedown. At press time the location was still a mystery. Wherever it’s held, it begins at 8 p.m. It’s always been a hot night of line-dancing and fraternizing, giving new meaning to yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay. Check www.fgra.org/stampede for the latest word.
Hopefully, you won’t stay out too late, for on Sunday the rodeo gates are flung wide at 8:45 a.m. for more competition and midway dancing. On Sunday afternoon, the always-a-hit “Scarlet O’Hara Race” will be run, complete with complimentary costumes. “This is a fun charity event where everyone, including those in the stands, can compete,” Kami told Guy Magazine. Teams are composed of three entrants. The “Gone with the Wind” theme insures that it’s impossible to overdress. “You pick an outfit from a trunk, be carried over ‘water,’ and ride in a wheel-barrow across the finish line.” There’s a $20 per team entrance fee, and the winner gets ½ of the money collected.
At sundown, rinse off the dust in the nearest stream and put on your good chaps and spurs for the official Awards Ceremony and Dinner, held in the ballroom of the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Airport. Starting at 7:30 p.m., this special event requires a separate dinner ticket available at the rodeo grounds or Friday night’s registration.
Wrap up the weekend, present perfect, with “Rodeo Roundup,” the official Closing Night Party at The Manor. The shiny new buckles that will be on display are the result of a lot of hard work by the fortunate few who won the top prizes in categories like Junior Bull Riding, Calf Roping on Foot, Breakaway Roping, Chute Dogging, Pole Bending, Barrel Racing, Flag Racing, Bull Riding, Team Roping, Goat Dressing, Steer Decorating, and the Wild Drag Race. If you see Rodeo Director Voni Whitaker making the rounds, a standing ovation is not out of order. Such is the reward for a job well done.
Money raised by the IGRA this year is earmarked by the Royalty Team for the “It Gets Better” anti-bullying campaign created by Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller, as well as “Get Real with Teal” an awareness effort from the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation. “Members of the IGRA Royalty team hand out teal and purple ribbons, and sell pins and other items to raise awareness of these causes as well as donate to each group at the end of the 2012 rodeo year,” according to Kami. Royals can never truly rest. Not even at the rodeo.