After a few failed relationships, Adam Romanik tried to find a way to “connect with someone that had a similar love of horses, riding and rodeos.”
The out 37-year-old discovered a community where he could find that in gay rodeos. Romanik, who serves as president of the Keystone State Gay Rodeo Association (KSGRA), will host the organization’s inaugural Keystone State Gay Rodeo. The event kicks off the evening of June 23 with registration, rodeo school and a welcome party and continues through June 25 with a weekend of rodeo competitions, dancing and activities for rodeo enthusiasts of all skill levels and kids.
Romanik noted the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center is a “world-class facility” with several benefits like a convenient indoor location near town locales.
The KSGRA has been one of more than 20 member associations of the International Gay Rodeo Association since 2015. Romanik said it is a goal for regional rodeo associations to conduct an event like this.
“It’s very exciting to see the whole thing come to fruition,” he said.
Portions of the event’s proceeds will benefit Alder Health Services. The charity partner is a Harrisburg-based nonprofit organization that provides services to the LGBT community and those living with HIV/AIDS. While this year’s event only has one beneficiary, Romanik is looking toward the future.
“Our hope is that the rodeo is going to be an annual event and that every year, the rodeo will grow,” Romanik said. “Our goal is that, in years to come, we’ll add additional charity partners.”
Romanik noted that gay rodeos are different from conventional rodeos.
“In your traditional rodeo, the rodeo events are almost-sexist,” Romanik said. “You have some events that only men compete in and some events that only women compete in. In the gay-rodeo circuit, men and women compete equally in all events.
“We’ll have women bull-riders, women saddle-bronc riders and women ropers. And then there will be men like me who compete in the barrel racing and the other speed events,” Romanik added, noting that men and women do not typically compete in these respective competitions. “It’s really a way for everyone to have a fair shot at all of the events.”
Additionally, Romanik said the weekend includes events other than horse-riding.
“We recognize the fact that not everyone is going to be comfortable riding a horse. So we have added some events that we call our ‘camp events’ that allow anyone to compete. Some of the events are laugh-out-loud fun for anybody that is not really into rodeo or who would like to compete but doesn’t know how to ride a horse.”
The camp events include goat-dressing, a relay race where participants put underwear on a goat, and another competition in which competitors tie a ribbon around a 600-pound steer’s tail.
However, Romanik said the “most fun” camp event is called “Wild Drag Race.” In this team competition, two cowboys attempt to get a 600-pound steer under control in the middle of the arena. They then help a drag queen get on the steer’s back and the drag queen rides the animal across the finish line.
“Usually, as soon as you throw the drag queen up on its back, the steer bucks so it’s really a good time,” Romanik said.
He added that attendees can meet contestants from around the country, noting he has confirmed registrations from people in California, Florida and Texas.
“[Attendees will] enjoy meeting contestants from all over the United States,” Romanik said. “They can come and see these athletes perform rodeo and they’ll enjoy themselves, have a great time and support a great cause.”
The Keystone State Gay Rodeo will be held June 23-25 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center, 2300 N. Cameron St., Harrisburg. Visit http://bit.ly/2rSx6qS to purchase tickets.
If you go…
- June 23: Rodeo school 3-6 p.m.; rodeo registration 6-9 p.m. The organization will also host a Rodeo Welcome Party 9 p.m. at 704 Lounge, 704 Third St., Harrisburg.
- June 24: Keystone State Gay Rodeo 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; line-dance lessons 7-8:30 p.m.; Country Ho-Down 8:30 p.m.-midnight
- June 25: Keystone State Gay Rodeo 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Rodeo Awards 7:30-9 p.m.