top of page
  • Tara Crutchfield


State Finals Come to Polk County

If you’re a lover of all things rodeo, it’s time to dust off your chaps! The Hamster Rodeo State Finals is making its way to a roughly 5-square-foot patch of the Bartow Horse Arena at the Polk County Agri Civic Center. Be prepared for all the gruff and a lot more fluff at this must-attend event.

The hamster rodeo is an endeavor by the Hadley Association for Hamsters in America (HAHA), a project spanning the last two decades. The sport of traditional rodeo may be all about cowboys, horses, and cattle, but hamsters are the wild west stars of this rodeo, roping and riding guinea pigs.

HAHA Founder and CEO Buck Hadley explained the sport’s origins. “You might not know it, but there is a rodent hierarchy, of which hamsters are damn near the top,” he said. “It wasn’t hard to teach them to rope and ride. All it took was Waylon Jennings, PBR, and a little time. Hamsters are the natural cowboys of Rodentia.”

These small but stout rodeo stars stand between six and eight inches tall and don blue jeans, boots, spurs, chaps, and cowboy hats. Miniature saddles and cinches adorn the riding guinea pigs, but the real show is bareback gronc riding. Taking the place of bucking horses (bronc or bronco) are rambunctious guinea pigs, aka groncs or groncos. Other notable events are guinea pup wrestling, saddle gronc riding, tie-down roping, team roping, barrel racing, and hamster wheel racing.

“You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a hamster, one tiny hand wrapped around the riggin’, the other hand in the air trying to stay on a bucking guinea pig for eight seconds,” said Hadley. “Their itty bitty hands are perfect for gripping a shoelace size rope. And when they get bucked off, all you see is a flash of fluff and high pitched eeeeeeeeeeeeeee sound. It’s great.” No hamsters are harmed during the rodeo; they always land on their tiny booted feet, according to Hadley.

Staying true to rodeo culture, there will be hamster rodeo clowns as comic relief to the crowd and keep the tiny cowboys safe when thrown off a raging guinea pig.

The Hamster Rodeo State Finals is sponsored by Skoal Smokeless Tobacco, “The chew of choice for chubby-cheeked cowboys everywhere,” and Wrangler as part of a campaign for their line of hamster jeans, Hanglers with the tagline

“Hanglers – keeping your hamster double cheeked up since 1904.”

For $10 admission, attendees will enjoy buckin’ and bulldoggin’ from the top names currently in hamster rodeo, including Wild Hamster Bill Hickock and even 2020 All-Around Hamster Rodeo Champion from Milford, Utah, Stetson Bite. For an additional $20, you can get VIP access and high-five a hamster.

The event is strictly BYOH (Bring Your Own Hamster) as no hamsters will be for sale at the event. “Our small cowboys aren’t for sale. They’re their own men – a proud people. They love America, their mommas, apple pie, and rodeo. You can’t put a price on that,” said Hadley.

With an average life span of 2-3 years, top names in this kind of rodeo tend to rotate quickly. To pay homage to the rough and tumble hamsters of history, a pop-up Hamster ProRodeo Hall of Fame will be on site. Learn the history of the hamster rodeo and its legends, including Chubby Fannie Oakley, Texas Pete, Billy the Hamster, John ‘Wiggles’ Wayne, and Cheeks.

The Hamster Rodeo State Finals prize pool includes a lifetime supply of Skoal cherry chewing tobacco, a bag of baked timothy biscuits, a rhinestoned hamster wheel, and the coveted Hamster Rodeo State Finals trophy belt buckle. To enter your hamster into the state finals, send a photo, bio, and hamster rodeo credentials to


bottom of page