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Rodeo gets Memorial Day weekend off to rip-roaring start

Features Editor

Memorial Day Weekend is rodeo time in Pike County and, evidently, the rodeo is becoming a popular sport in this area.

More than 4,000 fans packed the Cattleman Park Friday and Saturday nights for the Pike County Cattlemen’s 10th Annual Professional Cowboy Association Championship Rodeo.

"This was the second rodeo in our new arena and we were more than pleased with the support from rodeo fans," said B.B. Palmer, publicity chairman of the cattlemen’s association. "Friday night is usually a rather slow night because people are just getting off work, but not this year. There was a big crowd Friday night.

I’d guess around 2,000."

Palmer said if everyone had been seated the bleachers on both sides of the arena would have been filled.

"Like at football games, a lot of people just like to stand to watch the action, so there were a lot of people standing," he said. "We had a good crowd both nights. More fans mean that interest in the rodeo is growing and that’s good a good sign."

Palmer said the number of cowboys and cowgirls was up slightly.

"We had between 200 and 300 competing for prize money and points," he said. "That was up 30 or 40 from last year."

The number of cowboys and cowgirls included two nights of rodeo and slack Friday night and Saturday morning.

The rodeo performance features 10 to 12 cowboys in each event. If more than that number register, they ride in the slack event.

"Most of the cowboys and cowgirls like to catch as many rodeos as they can in a weekend," Palmer said. "We had cowboys come in to ride in slack after the Friday night rodeo and others on Saturday morning. Then, they were off to another rodeo."

There were two other rodeos in the area this weekend, both in Georgia.

The Cattlemen’s rodeo featured two events for kids, the calf scramble and the mutton bustin’.

"There were a lot of young’uns out there chasing the calves and they all had a big time," Palmer said. "The mutton bustin’ was for kids from 3 to 7 years old. We let them register and then we drew 10 names each night and they got to get on a sheep and try to hang on. That was a lot of fun for the kids. The rodeo is a family event and we try to make it as much fun as possible for all ages."

Palmer said there were good riders in all seven events and the fans saw a good rodeo both nights.

"We’re a little short in bareback riding," he said. "Around here, bareback riding is just not as popular as it is in other places. Of course, the bull riding is the fans’ favorite event. Folks really like to see a cowboy try to ride a bull."

The Pike County Cattlemen’s Association adds $500 in prize money to the events and the other money comes from the cowboys’ entry fees.

"The PCA gets 8 percent of the fees and the rest goes to prize money," Palmer said. "Some of the bigger rodeos have $1,000 or more in added money. The cowboys want to go where they have a chance to win the most."

The Cattlemen would like to soon be able to up the added money for their rodeo and attract even more cowboys and cowgirls.

"The rodeo is a big draw and it brings a lot of people to Pike County," he said. "The cowboys and cowgirls and the fans spend money while they are here. I’m sure the rodeo is a boost to the economy. It can even be bigger and it will be bigger.

The Pike County Cattlemen are committed to that."