Surviving since it was organized in 1911, The War Bonnet Round Up takes pride in being the oldest rodeo in Idaho. The rodeo maintains a relationship with the Shoshone-Bannock tribes at Fort Hall which contributed “the most colorful component of the rodeo”— the war bonnet, a Native American feather headdress traditionally worn as a sign of respect or prestige.  

Rodeo participants range from directors to cowboys to rodeo clowns to rodeo royalty. According to the War Bonnet website, “Today, more than 450 cowboys and cowgirls compete each summer in front of more than 15,000 rodeo enthusiasts.” 

Show bulls like Ugly Wish are used in the most iconic rodeo acts. What's a rodoe without a bull rider? While most bulls have tempermental personalities, Ugly Wish is generally more docile and even lays down for pets. Though it is commonly believed that the color red agitates bulls, they are actually color blind. 


Cowboys and cowgirls who compete in the rodeo scene are often exposed to the sport at a young age. This year’s Miss War Bonnet Round Up Janessa Gardner has loved rodeo queening since she was a girl and says her favorite part about the rodeo scene is inspiring children like her young self. 

“Honestly, the biggest thing is the kids. I think that kids really like the stand-out glamour. We are promoting the rodeo. We are the face of the rodeo, so we do have to look our best … When I was a little kid, I looked up to the rodeo queens and I wanted to eventually be them. It really does make an impact on their lives,” she said. 

Despite her beautifully curled hair, silk shirt and bright red lipstick, Gardner says she gets down and dirty when show time rolls around. Interestingly, the dirt at a rodeo arena is an important safety aspect of the sport.  

Tractors have been tilling the arena for weeks before opening night, properly preparing the ground to be soft and even. Smooth riding turf makes an impactful difference in rodeo performance times and agility. After the rodeo, riders vote on the quality of the dirt in the arena. The War Bonnet Round Up has consistently ranked in the top three for the best footing. 


The Rodeo is making an impact on the lives of children with disabilities by inviting Champ’s Heart patrons to ride in the rodeo spotlight for the first time this year. 

According to the Champ’s Heart website, “Champ’s Heart is an equine ministry giving children and veterans who are facing emotional, physical, or cognitive challenges an opportunity to connect with horses. Engaging in activities such as riding, grooming, and horse painting, gives participants a break from lifestyles that can be overwhelming.” 

The rodeo is also supporting breast cancer survivors and veterans by naming Friday and Saturday’s themes in their honor. Thursday is Family Night, Friday is “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” Night and Saturday is “Salute to the Veterans” Night. 

Across these days, attendees can expect to enjoy horseback talent, roping, barreling, bull riding and more. Cassi Jones, Chairman of the Rodeo Advisory Board and Executive Producer says while rodeos showcase roping and horseback talent for entertainment, these ranching skills are used every day by generational cowboys and cowgirls. 

“These are useful skills on the ranch. That’s what a lot of folks don’t know is that it’s not just rodeo that these skills come in handy for. This is everyday ranch living when you’re taking care of cattle, breaking new horses, the whole nine yards,” she said. 

Jones also recognized that these skills are usually obtained through family ties, but she asserts that rodeo is a sport that is unifying, challenging and worthwhile for anyone who shows an interest. 

“A lot of those that you talk to that are involved with rodeo still putting it on today have some sort of tie to the Western root whether their grandparents did, their parents do, they do; it’s a generational thing. You honestly don’t even have to be a part of a generation though to get involved because anyone can rodeo,” she said.