Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Angola Penitentiary Rodeo

Yes, this is where we spent a good portion of the day--the Angola Prison Rodeo! The Olsen's told us about it when we first arrived, and Marc was ready to order tickets that day! I wasn't quite as anxious, but can now say "been there, done that."

Angola is the largest maximum security prison in the United States and is also called "Alcatraz of the South." It's not quite an island but is bordered on 3 sides by the Mississippi River. Just where I wanted to be! No name tags today--it just didn't seem appropriate.

We arrived a few hours before the rodeo began which gave us MORE than enough time to look around at the arts and crafts. It was a bit like being in a Mexican port town with all the tents and tables set up with about the same variety of wares as those ports.  Lots of leather--purses, belts and key chains--paintings (thankfully none on black velvet), jewelry, and tons of woodwork, including tables and chairs, chairs and more chairs, all handmade and crafted by the inmates. There were actually some very beautifully made items but nothing I couldn't live without. It's good that many of the "residents" of Angola have found better ways, albeit forced, to spend their time. This really brings home the reality of the blessing of free agency and making wise choices.

Now on to the food. Mostly it was just too hot to eat, but the cold bottles of  bottles of water were lifesavers. The air was heavy with the smell of grease. One thing that wasn't fried was crawfish. It's crawfish season in Louisiana, and boy are they excited. Time to break out the boilin' pots which are bigger than any pot I've ever seen in a church kitchen--probably 80-100 quarts! Most live crawfish come in mesh bags of about 35-50 lbs. The recipe I found only feeds a family of 6 comfortably. That's for a smaller sack of about 28 lbs! OK, you only eat the tails--unless you want to suck out the eyeballs. I'll opt out on that activity.

These Louisianans LOVE their crawfish boils. But don't pronounce it like a Californian. It's taken me 4 months to actually get "bawl" out of my mouth correctly. (Now I know how President Uchtdorf felt when he said that English was impossible for him. He thought his mouth was not made for speaking English. Well, I SPEAK English and "Southern" is pretty darned tricky!) Crawfish haven't been plentiful until now because the weather's been too cold. Cold weather drive the crawfish deep into the ponds, and they stop feeding and entering traps. When the water temperature is below 50 degrees, crawfish stay dormant under dead plants at the bottom of ponds and swamps, not scavenging for food, and not growing!

So I got a bit side-tracked. This lady had 2 boxes of crawfish, which includes boiled potatoes and corn, and was enjoying immensely with her 3 cutie daughters. Dad didn't want to be included in the picture. A few other available offerings were turtle or alligator on a stick and fried coke. No problem passing on any of those. FYI: Fried coke looked like the bunuelos we use to make which were just a batter dropped by spoonfuls into hot oil then dusted with powdered sugar. Thank you Sister Badal. Our family loved them. Anyway, the milk is replaced with coke in the batter.

Now on to the rodeo. The arena was built fairly recently and only took 3 months. Lots of available labor! I was SO grateful that it was covered. There was such a nice breeze and that made it completely comfortable.

The rest of this post will be more pictures than words.  The 3 Spanish (speaking) sisters living nearby are coming for dinner, and it would be good to have something to feed them. These aren't all of the events, but it'll give a pretty good picture of what goes on here. And yes, I did take all of the pictures.

After losing half of this blog I'm now going to give a brief description of the rodeo events and call it quits. There were a few typical events like bull-riding, barrel racing (by some local teenage girls, and buddy pick-up. And then there were some out-of-the-ordinary activities. One was a hula hoop something. 6 cowboys each stood inside a hula hoop, then the bull was released.The last man standing in his hoop wins. The next pics are buddy pick-up or cowboys vs. horses.

 The craziest even that we watched was "inmate poker." Four men are  sitting  on their chairs at the "poker table" when the Brahma is released from the chute. This bull, whose name is Freddie Krueger, just about wiped everything on with his first pass through the "gambling hall!"

We didn't stay for the whole rodeo for 2 reasons. We'd been invited to the Fontenot's for dinner, but also poor Elder L was anticipating exiting the penitentiary with 10,000 other spectators. Anyone who knows Marc knows that just isn't going to happen.  It didn't!

Dinner at the Fontenot's was so pleasant. They live on a large, beautiful, peaceful piece of land surrounded by huge trees and a creek running through the backyard. When we arrived we thought they'd invited half the ward. Elder L was barbecuing pork ribs, chicken halves, pork riblets that must've be 1/4 lb each, hot dogs and pork/venison sausage that I have to admit was delicious! Also on the menu were baked beans, potato salad and homemade ice cream for dessert. We came home feeling like 2 little porky pigs but what a unique day it was!

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