JACKSONVILLE — Sharon Akin is used to seeing many types of people at the Tops In Texas Rodeo ticket office, from the young to young at heart.
Ms. Akin, who has sold tickets for about 15 years, sits in the Norman Activity Center each rodeo season, fielding phone calls and questions from buyers.
“It's either really really busy (or slow). This year's been a little different because they changed it from July to May, and I've had lots of phone calls about the change,” she said.
Ms. Akin begins selling tickets at 8 a.m. and doesn't stop until shortly before 6 p.m.
A lot of businesses purchase box seats for every night of the rodeo, and she keeps a count of the tickets sold at the activity center, she said. Tickets also are sold at the arena behind Lon Morris College prior to the rodeo.
Box seats only become available if someone gives them up, she said, and most seats by the chutes are usually purchased by businesses who then give them to employees.
“I have a guy that calls every year. He sits in Section A, row 10, seats one, two and three every year, and he calls me the first day we open for those tickets,” she said.
“They've lived around here most of their life, and they've gone to the rodeo most of their life.”
But sometimes the buyers come from far away. Ms. Akin said some people from China are slated to attend Friday night's event, and last year, some girls from England called and bought tickets because they wanted to see a rodeo.
Although Ms. Akin said she enjoys talking with different people, there can also be out of the ordinary situations. For instance, she called the police four or five years ago after a man came into the ticket office.
“He wasn't a problem. He just unnerved me a little bit,” she said. “I told him if he was not going to buy tickets, he had to leave.”
Ms. Akin said she remembers the rodeo completely selling every ticket in the stands when country music singer Neal McCoy performed at the rodeo for the first time.
“That's the first time I remember selling completely out. I think that was because he was from Jacksonville and that's when he really broke out,” she said.
Ms. Akin said they don't sell many tickets online, but she does sell a lot of tickets over the phone.
She also noted that taking credit cards provided a big boost for sales.
“You have to look at it like a business. You have to take it very serious. You have to plan it…,”said Roland Adams, who has handled ticket sales for probably 35 years.
“It's good for the community and good for the town … I think the little kids create more excitement about it than the adults, (and) a lot of people also spend their last dollars to go to the rodeo.”
Adams said sales so far this year have been a little slow, which he attributed in part to undependable weather earlier in the week.
He said a lot of people watch the weather and wait until the night of the rodeo to purchase tickets.
As of Wednesday, Dana Chancey, with Trinity Assisted Living, already bought tickets for her residents.
She said it will be a good outing for them, and they'll get to watch the rodeo action from box seats.
“They're very excited to be up close,” she said, adding that it will be the first time for one resident to go in 20 years.
“We're just looking forward to it being the 50th year and that it's cooler. It'll be different … but I'm anxious to see the turnout.”