Summer is almost here, and with it comes warmer temperatures, picnics, barbecues and Elbert County’s biggest party of the year — the Elizabeth Stampede Rodeo. Dozens of volunteers are spending …
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Summer is almost here, and with it comes warmer temperatures, picnics, barbecues and Elbert County’s biggest party of the year — the Elizabeth Stampede Rodeo.
Dozens of volunteers are spending their Saturdays preparing for the big Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event, which draws thousands of spectators each year to the professional rodeo and festivities that run from June 6 to June 9 at the arena at Casey Jones Park in Elizabeth.
“The rodeo started as a local gathering in the 1920s,” said Jace Glick, president of the Elizabeth Stampede Rodeo Organization. “It went on and off, but has really been running non-stop since the boys returned back from World War II. Now we’re the big league as a PRCA rodeo — we’re where all the cowboys want to be competing.”
The Elizabeth Stampede is among the few professional rodeos that are self-funded, according to Glick, which means they rely on ticket sales and partners to be able to put the event on each year.
Festivities are run completely by volunteers, and their enthusiasm is part of what makes the rodeo so successful.
“The people in our community are amazing,” said Glick. “They all show up on Saturday, they’re not getting paid anything, and they work hard. We’re truly a rodeo family, and when you come to the rodeo you’ll be treated like family by everyone you interact with. You’ll hear a lot of `yes ma’am’ and `yes sir.’”
Festivities kick off with a concert June 6, with special guest Kasey Tyndall performing at 7:30 p.m., followed by Sawyer Brown at 9 p.m. Guests of all ages are invited to attend the annual parade, which begins at 10 a.m. June 8.
The real excitement begins at 7 p.m. June 7, when cowboys match their riding skills against animals weighing 15 times more than they do, during the Xtreme Bulls competition. The Elizabeth Stampede is one of only a handful of PRCA rodeos that qualify to host an Xtreme Bulls competition, and at the end of the rodeo season the top riders will compete for the tour championship.
June 8 will include performances at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., with the crowd favorite “Mutton Bustin’,” as well as barrel racing, steer wrestling, team roping and saddle bronc riding.
The Slack performance, held June 9 at 10 a.m., is free to the public. Slack performances allow all riders the chance to get in their two allotted rides. Results of the slack performances count in the overall competition, and in 2015 barrel racer Meghan Johnson set an arena record during her Saturday morning slack run. Spectators are treated to all the excitement of any rodeo contest, without an admission fee.
Members of the military can attend the Red White and Blue Rodeo June 9 at 2 p.m. for half-price admission. The performance includes a ceremony honoring veterans who served in any conflict and in any service. Local military personnel will be recognized.
Throughout the three rodeo days, attendees can learn about the life of a rodeo cowboy at the Rodeo Experience Booth, hosted by the PRCA Hall of Education. The booth allows fans to interact with rodeo cowboys, rodeo queens and volunteers, and try their hand at roping a model steer. You can also learn how rodeo producers and stock contractors keep valuable rodeo animals safe.
Tickets for all events can be purchased online at http://elizabethstampede.com/tickets/.
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