Destination Louisiane: Angola Prison Rodeo provides second chances

ST. FRANCISVILLE, La. (BRPROUD) – The Angola Prison Rodeo is a place filled with “second chances” for inmates behind bars to interact and show their talents off to society.

Known as the “Wildest Show in the South”, the Angola Prison Rodeo is the longest-running prison rodeo. It began in 1965 and the rodeo has been an effort to combine offenders, prison employees, and those who live in St. Francisville.

Brian White is a visitor to the rodeo and he says, “my favorite part would have to be watching them ride.”

Jeremy Charles has been coming to the rodeo for years and he is “looking for some of the bells, the food, the band that normally plays and the rodeo.”

According to the Angola Museum archives, the rodeo is a “behavioral incentive” to reward inmates with good behavior by participating in rodeo events. Besides earning money from winning rodeo competitions, they can sell crafts, furniture, art, and jewelry they made behind bars.

An instructor at Angola, Luther McFarland has been incarcerated for seven years and is a part of the Wrench Program. McFarland says it’s one way for inmates to interact with the public to showcase their skills.

“We are helping guys to reach their potential, their pinnacle of education of communication and try to heal their trauma, that’s why they’re here.” says McFarland.

One inmate, Anthony Bascle, has been incarcerated for 28 years and wants to raise money for his family by painting New Orleans-inspired art.

“The second chance, the opportunities that they give us, we’re very grateful,” says Bascle, “A lot of what people do here is positive, it’s moving forward because we believe in something greater than ourselves.”

Bascle says he looks forward to the rodeo each year and that by doing something positive, “It helps us forgive ourselves.”

Every Sunday in October, and the third weekend of April fans can purchase their tickets to enjoy the rodeo.

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