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OFF THE BENCH
My feet don’t smell funny and I didn’t even break a sweat.
It hardly feels like I went to a rodeo.
Friday night was not my first rodeo, not by a long shot, but it was my first indoor rodeo.
With baseball, softball, golf, track and tennis rained out due to recent storms, I was wondering what to do on a Friday night. So I decided to stay indoors, but go to the UPRA Spring Membership Rodeo at the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center.
It was the 30th anniversary of the event, they must be doing something right, so I decided to check it out.
The thought of an indoor, climate-controlled rodeo just appealed to my senses. It’s another Hopkins County thing I needed to experience.
You see, in Jacksonville, where I moved from, rodeos are held in the summer. I am talking outside, in July, in the scorching heat with all smells of the rodeo animals.
Many times at the Jacksonville rodeo the temperature near triple digits, I sweated through my clothes. My notes were literally smearing across the page soaked from perspiration.
After days of watching it rain and seeing baseball diamonds transform into small lakes, I opted for a trip to an inside rodeo and a dry experience.
One of the first things to impress me about the rodeo was how friendly everyone was at the event. But I have encountered friendly people almost on every turn (even on the one-way streets) since I rolled into town with my family in August.
Another thing about the rodeo I noticed was how it is very youth-oriented, I counted five of the 15 events appealing to persons 18 years and younger. Many like the mutton bustin’ and boot scramble are for small children, which I found very entertaining.
Few things are funnier than watching a small, scared calf being chased by a rampaging horde of 40 to 50 kids running wild after a prize ribbon. Or seeing a pint-sized cowgirl hold with a death grip on the wool of a once docile sheep.
The total list of events included regular rodeo action like bareback and saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, team and tie-down roping, barrel racing and of course bull riding. Even pretty girls vying for queen and princess honors.
I admire the rodeo cowboys who put their entry fee on the line for a shot at part of the $18,500 pot of prize money. Especially in these trying economic times, the cowboys were really putting their bodies on the line, all for a paycheck.
The stock, like the economy, got the better end of the deal Friday. According to my unofficial notes, 33 cowboys got no scores while 18 posted times in the event. That was not counting barrel racing, while it is an event involving an animal, the quarter horses are not wild, usually.
So after the two-hour show, I walked back out into the cold, wet night, having seen a good show. UPRA president Jerry Hill and rodeo chairman Oscar Aguilar along with all the friendly folks involved are to be complimented on the event.
The cowboys might have won the money, but I think the whole community is the winner.
Maybe next year I’ll have a hat or at least boots.
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