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Smiles, fun and top competition
9th Annual Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo
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Hedrick Rodeo employees work to keep an excited bucking horse in his chute during the first night of last weekend's Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fairgrounds. "He was just excited and raring to go," explained owner Danny Hedrick about the six-year-old horse. The horse, later dubbed "High Chaparal," was taken out of the rotation that night, but was bucked after the show as a precaution.

From the first circling of the arena by Miss Rodeo USA with Old Glory waving in the breeze to the last bull ride, the ninth annual Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo was terrific. The words “great rodeo” were heard over and over!  The weather forecasters had difficulty firming up a consistent forecast, but dry skies and warm temperatures prevailed, even as a storm passed by to the west. The audiences were super, with packed houses both Friday and Saturday nights. Superb action in the rodeo arena made sure Statesboro rodeo fans enjoyed great shows.

Hedrick Rodeo Company brought their top-shelf bulls and broncs to Statesboro. They put the top competitors in IPRA to the test providing lots of action — the winning riders did not come by their victories easily. Rodeo contestants represented 18 states and two Canadian provinces.

Even the food offerings were terrific. Hunter Cattle Company was cooking up gourmet grass-fed beef burgers, sausage dogs and hot dogs, all made in Bulloch County. The Kiwanis BBQ, prepared by Earl Cashon, was worthy of bragging.  Wavee Shavee provided flavored shaved ice, Famous Funnel Cakes had a never-ending line of eager customers, Big Boy Cookies purveyed their “adult cookie” treats and Coca-Cola had to resupply on Saturday. 

Rodeo event winners were:

Cody Warnock of Ohatchie, Alabama, 75 points, Bareback Bronc; Timothy Troyer of Columbia, Kentucky, Saddle Bronc; Lane Bradley of Midville, Georgia,  9.9 seconds, Tie-down roping;  Cord Spradley of Hoboken, Georgia, 7.1 seconds, Steer Wrestling; Kevin Daniel (Citra, Florida) and Jake Edwards (Fort Ann, New York), 4.7 seconds, Team Roping;  Sadie Wolaver of Fayetteville, Tennessee, 13.709 seconds, Cowgirl Barrel Racing; and Michael Riggs of Ludowici, Georgia, 80 points, Bull Riding.

Sixteen-year-old Wolaver won Barrel Racing for the second year in a row.

While the winning scores/times are impressive the competitive level of the rodeo is revealed in the difference in scores between winners and followers. Bull Riding was 3.5 points, Barrel Racing 0.15 seconds, Bareback Bronc 2 points, Team Roping 2.1 seconds, Tie-down roping 0.7 seconds and Steer Wrestling 0.2 seconds. That kind of competitiveness kept the enthusiastic crowd cheering and clapping in appreciation.

Local events included calf scrambles for kids 6–9 years old and 10–12 years old, Steer Dressing for 3-person teams (at least one female) and a pre-rodeo treasure hunt for kids under 5.    

In the Calf Scramble, kids chase after a calf to snatch a ribbon from its tail. The calf is not real cooperative and plays catch-me-if-you can with the kids.The winners were: Friday, Talon Tankersley (6-9) and Jat Skolman (10-12); and Saturday, Mason Lee (6-9) and Marcus Hartwell (10-12). Each winner received a $50 cash prize.

In Steer Dressing, the teams have to capture a young steer and dress it with shorts, socks and a scarf. 

The winning teams were Nonna Picci Pizza on Friday and Baja Boro Mexican Restaurant on Saturday. Winning teams got a prize of cash plus gift certificate from Agri Supply.

The treasure hunt gives kids 5 and under the chance to get in the arena and dig for hidden treasure (small toys) in a load of hay. The size of the kids “mob” in the arena was mighty impressive, with kids and audience all having a bit of fun. A special prize each night was a pass to Jumpshot Indoor Trampolines & Paintball.

The folks from Hedrick Rodeo Company and Kiwanis teamed up midday Friday to provide a special rodeo show for kids in the Bulloch County School System Special Education Program. Drinks were provided by Coca Cola. About 120 kids plus teachers and chaperones attended. After the show the rodeo pickup men rode their horses over to the arena fence so kids could get close — some kids just looked in awe and others reached out and petted the horses. Lots of smiles were seen and giggles heard.

It all added up to another memorable Statesboro rodeo happening — smiles, laughing, singing, cheering from the spectators — and happy faces as they departed. Even the rodeo announcer, Dillon Gross, and the rodeo clown, Pat Hughes, were impressed, saying they’d love to be back to Statesboro for the 10th annual Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo.

A hearty salute from Statesboro Kiwanis to this year’s rodeo sponsors, with special thanks to Gold Sponsors, Anderson’s General Store, JC Lewis Ford–Lincoln, Northland Communications and the Statesboro Herald. Their partnering with the Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo allows this popular event to come to Statesboro with all proceeds going to charity.

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Jacob Daniell of Monroe, Georgia misses the mark as he dives off his horse during the Steer Wrestling competition on Saturday. Rodeo announcer Dillon Gross refers to participants as the "football players" of rodeo athletes.