Once upon a time, Davie, Fla was a far western outpost in South Florida.

“Davie was in the sticks,” recalled Todd Garrett, founder of the Florida Gay Rodeo Association. “That’s why there’s a hitching post at McDonald’s. People would ride their horses into town.”

And then the growth came.

Development now surrounds much of Davie as Broward County continues to expand westward. Turnpikes, state roads, interstate highways and freeways surround the town, which makes getting there somewhat complicated for those traveling by land, especially with livestock.

“It’s not easy getting there with a trailer and all those tolls,” Garrett said. “For a lot of our competitors, this is the hardest rodeo to get to.”

Nevertheless, Bergeron Rodeo Grounds will host the Eighth Annual Sunshine Stampede, April 4-6, providing an all inclusive weekend for those who enjoy the gay country and western lifestyle. Garrett, who’s a Florida cowboy, describes the event as “sporting” and “entertaining.”

thers, like SFGN reader Chris Murphy, aren’t so sure.

In a letter published last week, Murphy writes, “Rodeos are Western-themed circuses that are frightening for animals. They don’t reflect actual ranch work where real cowboys protect livestock.”

Garrett disagrees and said FGRA is “extremely protective of its animals,” adding he and his quarter-horse know how to “work cattle” on his ranch and that Florida is a state rich in equine culture.

“Florida is the horse capital of the world,” he said. “There are more than 500,000 horses in Florida. Florida also has more cattle than Texas.”

At the rodeo, cowboys ride horses in an attempt to corral cattle. Roping and cutting are techniques the cowboys use atop their horses. And at the gay rodeo, everyone is welcome.

“It’s open to everybody, gay or straight,” Garrett said.

One thing you will see at the Sunshine Stampede that you will not see at other professional rodeo events is the gender switching of traditional roles, such as males running barrels and females riding bulls.

In addition to the action at the rodeo grounds in Davie, Garrett said nightly gatherings of cowboys will take place at Ramrod Fort Lauderdale and Bill’s Filling Station in Wilton Manors. There’s also a pool party at the Renaissance in Plantation and a screening of the film “Queens & Cowboys” at the Classic Gateway Theater in Fort Lauderdale.

And for those who like to ride, Garrett said a trail system is still in place from Davie to the Everglades. He also noted, the FGRA is proud to return proceeds from this year’s Sunshine Stampede to numerous charities LGBT charities.

For more information and a schedule of events, visit www.fgra.org or www.sunshinestampede.org