Angola Rodeo! More than 50 Years!
The Angola Rodeo, the longest running prison rodeo in the nation, got its start in 1965. The first arena was small, built by a handful of dedicated inmates and personnel. It wasn’t much in those days, and the rodeo was staged just for the entertainment of prisoners and employees. But, it was fun.
Today, the Angola Prison Rodeo is a professionally produced rodeo. Angola contracts with professional rodeo stock contractors to provide the rodeo stock used in events; professional judges are contracted to objectively judge each event. In addition, to ensure inmate participant safety, professional rodeo clowns are always present in the arena during events. A full complement of emergency services personnel are on-site to provide medical assistance to inmates and spectators.
Ticket, concession, and hobbycraft sales in the late 90’s broke all records, prompting the administration to build another arena. Construction began on the new stadium in April 2000 and increased capacity to 7,500. The new stadium was completed for the first rodeo in 2000.
What began 50 years ago as a “fun” thing by a handful of rodeo-loving inmates and employees is now a big business. Proceeds from the Angola Prison Rodeo cover rodeo expenses and supplement the Louisiana State Penitentiary Inmate Welfare Fund, which provides for inmate educational and recreational supplies.
Death and Dying at Angola
Department of Corrections and Former Wardens
The stories of the former wardens and their histories are a part of Angola. Bravery, faith, respect and even one Warden who went to prison for attempted murder. See it all in their stories in this exhibit.
Farming on the Farm
There are some very interesting weapons in this exhibit made from everyday items. See just how creative Inmates are, when it comes to “reinventing” simple tools. From files to plastic utensils, you will see a variety of clever handmade weapons. Many of these items were donated to the museum by the penitentiary and by wardens from the prison.
History of Angola
Movies Made at Angola
Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Halle Berry, George Clooney, Billy Bob Thornton have all made movies at Angola. They are among many other famous actors and actresses who have visited and or been apart award winning films. Farming on the Farm a 1990s film about Angola was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary. Monster’s Ball and Deadman Walking both won multiple Academy Awards.
The Angolite – Award-winning Prison Magazine
The Angolite, the nation’s largest prison news magazine, is an award-winning, bi-monthly prison news magazine produced by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. They comment on notable events. It includes a monthly feature article, in-depth history of the prison, Louisiana and environs, or crime in general. It is a wealth of information for crime writers and anyone interested in the reality of incarceration. See past and current issues in this exhibit.
The Red Hat
Designed to confine escape risks, agitators and the most dangerous criminals, the Red Hat is a concrete structure of 30- five-by-seven-foot cells with solid steel doors with no heat or air conditioning. A 12-inch square barred hole at the top of the outside wall in each cell provided ventilation. Concrete slab served as beds, and although original bathroom facilities were only a hole in the floor of each cell, flush toilets were eventually added. Charlie Frazier was the first prisoner to be locked up at the Red Hat and it is purported that he was welded into his cell for seven years, only leaving to appear at court in St. Francisville to stand trial for slaying the prison employees. In 1957, a small execution chamber was built onto one side.
The men and women who provide security are considered the protectors for the outside world and for the inmates. These officers not only protect free people from the those who have committed crimes, but they also protect the inmates to ensure they are healthy and safe as well. Uniforms and weapons, used over the years by these brave officers are on display in this exhibit.