“Our sole purpose is to give back to the community,” said Bartow County Saddle Club Parliamentarian Wayne Allen, referring to saddle club efforts. “We’re all volunteers, no one gets paid here.”
Proceeds from the July 12-13 event will again go toward community programs. The saddle club donates to various causes each year. In the past, rodeo funds have benefitted community health needs, feeding programs, Christmas programs, shoes for residents at Hickory Log Vocational School and shoes for local students in city and county schools through the Bartow County Saddle Club’s Shoeing The Needy program begun nearly 40 years ago.
In addition to local efforts, Phillips Rodeo Productions — the company producing the Bartow County Championship Rodeo — is asking all rodeo guests to show their support for breast cancer awareness by wearing pink. The theme for this year’s rodeo, marking its 31st anniversary, is Tough Enough To Wear Pink.
“Danny and Bridgett Phillips of Phillips Rodeo Productions return to the arena as the coordinator of the rodeo event,” states a press release from Phillips Rodeo Productions. “Bridgett, who is a breast cancer survivor and is celebrating her fifth year of being cancer free, is asking all rodeo spectators to help her celebrate this milestone by ‘Pinking Out’ the rodeo grand stands. Wear your pink in support and to raise awareness about breast cancer.”
More than 150 contestants will compete in rodeo events, including bareback-bronc riding, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing, bull riding and breakaway roping.
The traditional rodeo events grew from competitions held to mimic farm and ranch functions of the cowboy as ranch hands competed for bragging rights.
“[Rodeo] offers an opportunity to step back and see how these animals were raised, handled and controlled,” Allen said. “It offers an opportunity to show the young and the old a working relationship between a man and a beast, like a horse. They both have brains and they work out a partnership to either stop a cow or rope a cow.
“So you’re really seeing a flash of the past in all of these events. All of the events are founded off of practices that were done, not only in the West, but here in the East too.”
Allen himself has experienced a career as a farrier, shoeing horses around the nation and even internationally. In his travels, Allen has seen the cowboy spirit in men and women of all ages, races and creeds.
“There’s been very few boys and girls that at some point in time didn’t want to be a cowboy,” Allen said. “I’ve seen the cowboy and cowgirl in 60-year olds, 20-year olds and 10-year olds. It gives them an opportunity to participate in something that more than likely their forefathers practiced.”
Every year, the nearly-3,000-seat covered arena, at 43 Saddle Club Drive, is at standing-room-only capacity for both days of the competition. Outside of the arena is children’s entertainment, a rock-climbing wall, petting zoo, Western-shopping vendors and a fully-stocked concession stand.
Gates will open Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. with events beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets will be available at the gate for $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 4-8 and children 3-and-under enter free. Parking also is free.
For more information, call 706-218-0382.