The Big Five-O: Rodeo Marks Milestone
By KELLY GOOCH
|IF YOU GO:|
|What: Tops In Texas Rodeo|
When: 7 p.m. May 16-19
Where: Rodeo arena off College Avenue behind Lon Morris College in Jacksonville
Tickets are $9. Active military and veterans get in free May 16. All proceeds go back to the community.
For more information, visit www.topsintexasrodeo.com
This year's Tops In Texas Rodeo features a new time and special milestone, but the quality of performances will be nothing short of what residents have enjoyed for decades, said Charles Dickerson, vice president of the Jacksonville Rodeo Association.
"I would say bull riders have gotten stronger and cowboys were (still) good (when the rodeo debuted)," he said.
"You've got young cowboys who really stay in shape. They're really top notch professionals. ... We've always had the top bull fighters, and our specialty acts have always been good, and they're going to be good this year."
Rodeo week activities, which typically take place in July, are scheduled for May 15 to 19 in Jacksonville. For its 50th year, Dickerson said the rodeo time was changed in an effort to have cooler weather and draw more participants and attendees.
"We thought if we had it in May we would attract top cowboys. Now, the top cowboys are like anyone else looking for cooler weather and go north to perform, so we thought if we could have it in May we will attract a better group of cowboys, and that's what we're trying to do. We want to put on the best for the people who sit in the bleachers. We want them to see a great rodeo," he said.
Everything kicks off May 15 with a cowboy church service at 6 p.m. and a street dance at 7 p.m. at Chili's, 1225 S. Jackson Street.
The rodeo begins May 16 with a rodeo parade beforehand at 5:30 p.m. through downtown.
Dickerson said the parade will feature Cherokee County Judge Chris Davis as the grand marshal, along with horses and floats, and will lead to the rodeo at 7 p.m. in the arena
off College Avenue by Lon Morris College
. The rodeo, which also will take place at 7 p.m. May 17, 18 and 19, will feature plenty of events to enjoy, including saddle bronc riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, bareback riding, girl's barrel racing, and team roping, an event that was added in recent years. Mutton Bustin' starts at 6:30 p.m. each day of the rodeo.
"We've got clowns ... like Travis Adams, and there are great bull riders," Dickerson said.
The rodeo also will have a motorcycle act from Troy Lerwill, who is known as "The Wild Child," and a digital scoreboard will provide instant replays.
Among the other rodeo week activities are a Kids Day at the Park from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on May 17 at Hazel Tilton Park, located at the corner of Main Street and U.S. Highway 79, the Miss Jacksonville Rodeo Queen's Contest at 10 a.m. May 19 in the rodeo arena, and a junior rodeo at 8 a.m. May 19, and a 75766 One Day Sale on May 19.
"We started the rodeo at 7 p.m. so people will be able to be home and go to school (the next day)," Jacksonville Rodeo Association President Byron Underwood said. "We're anticipating a lot bigger crowd because of the (cooler time of year). We just want people to come out and enjoy the fun, and we've got a good rodeo put together."