UPRA finalists competing for $120,000 in prizes at Civic Center this weekend

From Staff Reports

Nov 14, 2007 - The best of the best will meet at the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center arena for the 29th consecutive year this weekend for the big finish to the United Professional Rodeo Association season.

Staff Photo by Angela Pitts

Saddle bronc riding is one of the 19 events that will be featured at this weekend’s UPRA Finals Rodeo at the Civic Center, which annually brings the top cowboys and cowgirls from all across the Southern United States for one final showdown in Sulphur Springs in November. The events kick of with the Handicapable Rodeo at 9 a.m. Friday, while the professional riders and ropers will take center stage at the Civic Center Arena from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The finals this year are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, when awards will be presented.

UPRA Executive Director and General Manager Jerry P. Hill calls the finals a place where the best meets the best, with the top cowboys and cowgirls from all across the Southern United States joining with the top stock contractors in Sulphur Springs for a final showdown rodeo.

�The Civic Center has been the venue every November since 1979 for the UPRA Finals Rodeo. In March, UPRA Executive Director Jerry Hill inked a deal on a five-year contract extension to keep both the UPRA spring rodeo and finals rodeo at the Civic Cente, the only home the two rodeos have ever known. The UPRA (formerly the Central Rodeo Assocation) rodeo was one of the first annual events established when the Civic Center opened in 1979.

The finalists compete in about 125 rodeos during the year which span across Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas, earning points and eventually one of the slots in their category at the finals, which features the year's top contestants in 19 event categories.

There's a lot of money at stake, too — the payout to competitors this year is in the $120,000 range.

But the championship rodeo offers more than just the circuit's best bull riders, tie-down ropers and barrel racers. 

The rodeo events start a at 9 a.m. Friday with the annual Handicapable Rodeo, which each year  features more than 250 special kids competing in fun events.

The UPRA Finals Rodeo also contributes to special causes. Friday night, UPRA will honor the Boys and Girls Club of Sulphur Springs, and on Saturday, it's Breast Cancer Awareness, with everyone — contestants and spectators alike — being asked to "make the Civic Center a sea of pink." 

�Six young ladies will also compete for the title of Miss UPRA 2008. Contestants this year in the annual pageant held in conjunction with the Finals Rodeo include Hopkins County Rodeo Queen Brooke Stanley, Franklin County Sheriff's Posse Rodeo Queen Brook Allen, Brittany Amos from LA Rodeo Productions, Gene Smith Rodeo Company representative Madelyn Thompson, Miss Bogata Rodeo Queen Jordan Davenport, and Whitney Baird, representing Big L Rodeo Company.� The new queen will be crowned during Saturday night's activities.

Tickets for each day's rodeo are $8 for adults and $7 for children at the gate. Contact the Civic Center Box Office at 903-885-8071 for tickets and other information about the UPRA Finals Rodeo.

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