By BILL ANDERSON
Special to the Herald
The 10th annual Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo played to a sold-out house on both Friday and Saturday nights as the rodeo returned to the Boro after a year-long COVID-induced hiatus. The new Bulloch County Agricultural Complex was the rodeo venue for the first time.
Both nights provided superb rodeo action. Friday night saw perfect rodeo weather but on Saturday with Mother Nature pouring over 3 inches of rain on Statesboro, the roofed Ag Complex was truly appreciated. The audiences were super both nights showing loud appreciation for the action in the rodeo arena.
Hedrick Rodeo Company, in their 10th year coming to Statesboro, brought their top-shelf bulls and broncs. Top competitors in IPRA were put to the test providing lots of action — the winning riders did not come by their victories easily. A total of 161 contestants from 18 states competed for $16,000 in prize money.
Rodeo events and winners were: Bareback Bronc, Joshua Crager, 83.5 points (Columbia, SC); Saddle Bronc, Kenneth Glick, 83 points (Belton, SC); Bull Riding, Cash Bronson, 86.5 points (Chelsea, OK); Tie-down Roping, Hadley Deshazo, (Ash Flat, AR) and Travis Stanley (Whitsett, NC) tied with 9.5 seconds; Steer Wrestling, Matt Oubre, 5.7 seconds (LaGrange, GA); Team Roping, Bradley Massey (Perry, FL) and Zach Mabry (Piedmont, AL), 5.7 seconds; Cowgirl Barrel Racing, Katelyn Donnelly (Belton, SC) 13.615 seconds.
The competitiveness at the rodeo is revealed by the score difference between first- and second-place finishers. In Bareback Bronc it was just 1.5 points, in both Bull Riding and Saddle bronc it was 3.5 points, Steer Wrestling just 1.4 seconds, Team Roping just 0.03 seconds , Steer Wrestling just 1.4 seconds and in Cowgirl Barrel Racing a difference of only 0.03 of a second. That kind of competition brought lots of appreciative applause from the audience.
Rodeo clown Rob Gann and announcer Dillon Gross kept the audience laughing. Miss Rodeo USA Kylee Campbell circled the arena with the American flag to open the rodeo and with the winner’s flag after each event. She drew rapt attention and generous applause from spectators.
Trick riders Alison Roberts and Emily Hedrick had the audience in awe as they galloped around the arena, rolling, standing and hanging on their magnificent steeds.
No rodeo would be complete without a couple of local events. Both the Kids Calf Scramble and Team Steer Dressing bring out smiles and laughter.
In the Calf Scramble, kids chase after a calf to snatch a ribbon from its tail. The calf is not very cooperative and plays catch-me-if-you-can with the kids. The winners were: Friday, 6–9, Josiah Carolino; and 10-12, Taylor Chaney; and Saturday, 6–9, Colton Bates; and 10-12, Hunter Moore. They each received a $50 cash prize.
For Steer Dressing, the teams have to capture a young steer and dress it with a skirt and a tie. It’s pretty entertaining. First, the steer has to be captured and then held while being dressed — they do not really want to be dressed. The winning teams were Statesboro Kiwanis on Friday and Blanchard Equipment on Saturday. Winning teams got a prize of cash plus a gift certificate from Agri Supply Company.
Before the start of the rodeo kids 5 and under are invited into arena for a treasure hunt of small toys hidden in a mound of hay, which brought out a small mob of kids and lots of smiles and parental encouragement.
It was a memorable Statesboro Kiwanis rodeo happening with laughing and cheering spectators, and smiles as they departed. Lots of plaudits came from the contestants for the Ag Complex facilities too. Even the sound of heavy rain on the roof Saturday and flashes of lightning overhead did not dampen spirits.
To all of the Statesboro Kiwanis sponsors, a hearty salute from the Kiwanis Club of Statesboro, and special kudos to Gold Sponsors Anderson’s General Store, JC Lewis Ford-Lincoln, Vyve Broadband and the Statesboro Herald. Their partnership with the Kiwanis Club of Statesboro allows this popular rodeo to play in Statesboro and provides for proceeds that go back into the community.
Thanks to all — hope to able to do it again next year!