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My First Visit to the Bonfim (Brazil) Rodeo

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Published: 22nd of April, 2024 by Patrick Carpen.

Last updated: April 23, 2024 at 0:29 am

On the 19th and 20th (Friday and Saturday) of April, 2024, I visited the Bonfim Rodeo in the Brazilian municipality of Bonfim, Roraima, Brazil for the first time. Prior to that, I had heard talks about the Bonfim Rodeo, and I was told that it was “bigger and better” than the world famous Lethem Rodeo which everyone knows about, but I had never visited.

Before going any further, I’d like to explain why I’m doing this review. First of all, I’d like to do a comparison of these two tourism products (Lethem and Bonfim) to offer some constructive criticisms for both sides which hopefully could help both sides improve a bit. Secondly, lots of people don’t get a chance to book a room for the Lethem Rodeo, and so they could take advantage of the Bonfim Rodeo. This will mean more business for hotels in Region 9 as well as transportation companies and tour operators. More awareness of the Bonfim Rodeo will bring more tourists and tourism business to Region 9, Guyana.

I arrived around 7:30 PM on Day 1 (Friday) at the Bonfim Rodeo. On Day 2 I caught the horse racing event that took place between 3 and 6 PM. Unfortunately, and because I didn’t have access to the program of events, I missed a very beautiful horse riding (different from horse racing) event of Day 2 that I was told took place between 6 and 7 PM of Saturday, Day 2. I didn’t manage to get any videos yet either. Hopefully I’ll catch it next year and update this article.

This is when we entered the Rodeo Ground on Day 1
This video shows the opening ceremony of the bull riding activities of Friday, Day 1.

Here are some key takeaways from my visit to the Bonfim Rodeo:

  1. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s bigger and better than Lethem Rodeo. Both sides do better than the other in some things and both sides could use some improvement.
  2. I love how the Guyana/Brazil border is left opened for the entire two days of the Bonfim Rodeo, no holds barred, just as it normally is for the Lethem Rodeo. There is also high police presence by the Brazilian military police in Bonfim during the event. This demonstrates the high level of cooperation between the two neighboring countries and the deep friendship and intertwined culture of two peoples.
  3. It’s free to enter the Rodeo Ground of the Bonfim Rodeo whereas one has to pay a small fee to enter the Rodeo ground at Lethem. I do not recommend changing this for Lethem, but I would recommend that the Bonfim organizations charge at least a nominal fee. This could be used to develop infrastructure and pay the persons who make the Rodeo happen.
  4. The partying in Bonfim is bigger, better, and far more intense than in Lethem. Whereas in Lethem there is a 2 AM curfew, in Bonfim the people party through the night. The bands are much bigger and music louder and more enticing than I’ve observed in Lethem.
  5. Both Lethem and Bonfim have a glamorous beauty pageant showcasing the beauty and talent of the young women of the Region. However, the Bonfim Rodeo pageant is run concurrently with the bull riding and opening ceremony of Friday (Day 1). This means that attendants of the Rodeo have to choose one over the other. This needs better organization.
  6. Both sides are equal where it comes to the bull riding activities.
  7. The fireworks and other activities of the opening ceremony of Day one in Bonfim tops the opening ceremony of Lethem.
  8. Both Lethem and Bonfim need to develop their stands, that is, build bigger stands, to cater for the growing needs of Rodeo enthusiasts. In Lethem, there is usually hardly enough space for tourists to sneak a peak and most people get discouraged because they have to peer through a hole in the fence, huddling besides stranger. It would be a great idea for Lethem to start building a bigger stadium for next year starting now.
  9. The horse racing track in Bonfim is oblong, not circular, which makes it difficult to enjoy the races. Further, there are very few seats next to it.
  10. If you are a Guyanese or a foreigner with legal entry in Guyana, you do not need a visa or passport to visit the Bonfim Rodeo in Brazil.
  11. Bonfim is located just a stone’s throw away from Lethem. In fact, when you stand on the middle of the Takutu River Bridge, you can put one foot in Bonfim and the other in Lethem. The Bonfim Rodeo Ground is located about one mile away from downtown Lethem.

See You On the Wild Side!

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