Yeehaw! It’s time for the rodeo

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By Denise DuBois

Gather your boots and cowboy hat for this year’s Stampede Rodeo Friday and Saturday nights beginning at 8 p.m. Get ready for bareback bronc riding, calf roping, cowgirl’s barrel racing and breakaway roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, team roping and, of course, bull riding.

This is none of the most family oriented events. It’s good, clean, family fun – one of the few things we can still do as a family,” said Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor.

The rodeo features a full eight events and is complete with rodeo clowns.

“It’s a lot of fun to watch the events when the contestants are really good. These are professional cowboys and cowgirls,” Taylor said. “One of the most fun things I enjoy watching is Money the Hard Way. They tie a coin to a bull’s head and people sign a waiver and get in the arena. They try to pull the coin off the bull’s head. That is hilarious.”

An event that is not advertised to the public, though, happens today. Special needs students from area schools will be on the grounds and watching as the cowboys and girls put on a special show just for them.

“This is the greatest day of the year for me,” Taylor said. “Watching those kids having fun and being kids, getting their faces painted and getting to see the cowboys and cowgirls is the greatest day.”

The Sheriff’s Department and the Russell County Cattleman’s Association work together to put on the event and split the proceeds that come from it. The sheriff donates his portion of the proceeds to a local organization and every other year, he uses his portion of the proceeds to host employee appreciation events at the sheriff’s department.

“We provide breakfast or lunch during the week or buy jackets or sweatshirts with the departmental logo so they’ll have something to wear that is outside the normal budget,” Taylor said.

Last year, the department donated approximately $7,000 to Central Freshman Academy’s football team for new uniforms and equipment. Next year, Taylor will pick another organization in which to donate funds.

Admission is $12, children 12 and under are $5 and children five and under get in free. Military admission is $10. Events begin at 8 p.m. both nights at the Twin Cities Horse Classic Arena, 3949 U.S. Highway 431 South.