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Horses, Herding and … Hydraulic Forklifts? Inside the Exciting, Unexpected World of Forklift Rodeos

forklift rodeo championships
Rodeos were introduced back in the early to mid-1800s as a way to display cowboy and ranch-hand skills like herding, calf roping, bull riding, and more.

Forklift rodeos, on the other hand, have only been around for a few years, and they’re used to highlight driving skills and safe operation, all while having fun.

That’s correct. You read correctly. Forklift rodeos.

What are forklift rodeos about? How can they help enhance safety for every forklift driver – even ones that aren’t entered in the next forklift rodeo competition?

Let’s look at some different forklift rodeo contests, along with how they can promote safety concepts for use in any work environment — warehouses, shipyards, construction sites, and more., the leader in online forklift training and certification, has three different training packages to help you become a better, safer forklift driver. Can our training help you excel in a forklift rodeo? Perhaps — but first, here is a brief history of the forklift rodeo.

What Is a Forklift Rodeo? Here’s What You Need to Know

Forklift rodeos started out with humble beginnings. Small companies originally held forklift competitions to award and recognize safe, efficient drivers.

A forklift rodeo is a competition unlike any other, as it encourages forklift operators to showcase their driving abilities in obstacle courses. All forklift rodeo participants must be certified to operate a lift.

Your business can host a forklift rodeo of its own, and doing so may deliver long-lasting benefits. If your workers become certified forklift operators, they can learn what it takes to safely use a forklift. As they build their forklift skills and expertise, they can compete in forklift rodeos for bragging rights as work. The result: your business can employ highly trained forklift operators who work safely and strive to do their best, even as they compete against one another in a forklift rodeo.

Forklift Rodeo Ideas

Some typical forklift rodeos include:

  • Balancing – for example, driving through a course with a ball balanced on a cylinder
  • Obstacle courses
  • Forklift bowling – this popular contest has to be seen to be believed, and you can check it out here

Recently, big companies have thrown their collective hats in the forklift rodeo ring.

For example, Toyota, one of the largest forklift manufacturers in the world, sponsored Ravago Manufacturing Americas’ National Forklift Rodeo Championship in Manchester, Tennessee. Twelve total contestants battled for the championship prize in a series of events, including pallet stacking, navigating obstacles, and other exciting activities.

Dot Foods, a major foodservice distribution company based in Illinois, has become a noteworthy sponsor of forklift rodeos. In fact, their annual competition, the Dot Foods Forklift Rodeo National Championship, is widely regarded as the most hotly contested forklift rodeo in the United States. This rodeo is divided up into three separate contests: forklift, order picker (pallet jacks), and narrow aisle. As footage of their 2017 contest shows, forklift rodeo contestants have some serious skills! From balancing acts to pallet jack competitions, the Dot Foods Forklift Rodeo National Championship is the gold standard of forklift rodeos.

How Do You Win a Forklift Rodeo Competition?

forklift rodeo trophy

At a forklift rodeo, the lowest score generally wins. Forklift operators are encouraged to navigate an obstacle course or complete our challenges as quickly and efficiently as possible. Meanwhile, these operators are typically penalized if they make a mistake along the way.

There are forklift rodeos in which forklift operators are scored individually or as part of a team. Regardless of how a forklift rodeo is set up, everyone’s a winner when a forklift operator drives their vehicle safely.

What Prizes Are Awarded During a Forklift Rodeo Competition?

What’s the ultimate prize for taking home the Dot Foods Forklift Rodeo National Championship? Last year’s winners were given the choice of an all-expense paid vacation to prime destinations like Disney World, the Bahamas, New York City, and more!

Regardless of the competition, there’s definitely a brand new meaning to “lifting the cup.” Sports teams celebrate championships by literally lifting a cup. The NHL has the Stanley Cup, Spanish soccer teams have the Copa del Rey, and countless other leagues honor league champions with a cup.

Along with cups, some forklift rodeos offer cash prizes to the top finishers. Furthermore, a virtual forklift rodeo was recently held, with the winner receiving a belt buckle that  can be worn proudly to showcase their forklift driving skills.

Well, it’s time to give the forklift its due. After all, nothing can quite lift a championship trophy like a forklift!

Looking to Acquire Forklift Rodeo Skills? FLC Can Help

At FLC, we won’t show you how to win a forklift rodeo. Our training courses will, however, show you crucial OSHA safety regulations, explain real-world situations you can apply on the job, and prepare you for the career of a lifetime!

If you’re ready to grab control of your forklift career and become the best possible forklift driver — and who knows, maybe a future forklift rodeo champion — then you’ll want to sign up for our training today. For more information, drop us a line or call our OSHA certification consultants directly at (888) 278-8896.

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