Bulls, broncs and even few clowns once again will take over the Kiwanis fairgrounds for two days in April. And if last year’s huge crowds offer any indication, the second annual Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo is sure to draw thousands.
Hedrick Rodeo Company will bring its livestock and champion riders to compete in an International Professional Rodeo Association sanctioned rodeo in Statesboro on Friday, April 27, and Saturday, April 28.
There will be calf roping, bull riding, steer wrestling and more events, said Danny Hedrick, owner of the company.
Hedrick paid a visit Wednesday to Statesboro to meet with Kiwanis rodeo committee members Bill Anderson and Don Poe to discuss final details of the event.
There will be an additional show this year, Poe said. Last year the Kiwanis club was unsure of local response to the rodeo, but crowds swarmed the fairgrounds and the single shows on that Friday and Saturday easily sold out.
People were sitting on the ground and many were turned away, he said. So, another show will be added Saturday along with the one Friday night.
“That should be ample opportunity for folks to get their cowboy fix by attending one of the three shows,” Poe said.
Advance tickets will go on sale in early April at Anderson’s General Store on Highway 80 East, for $12 each. Tickets sold at the gate will be $15. The price includes a program book.
“Proceeds go to charity,” Anderson said.
The rodeo joins the annual Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair in raising funds which the club filters back into the community.
The arena will remain the same size as last year, so spectators can “be close to the activity,” he said. Friday’s show will be at 7:30 p.m.. The two shows Saturday are set for 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
There will be different contestants and livestock for each show, Hedrick said.
“The opening will be a tribute to God, country and family,” he said. “We’ll have a different clown, Pork Chop, billed as the ‘biggest little man in rodeo.’”
Pork Chop is only four feet tall, he said. But joining Pork Chop will be “Fry Daddy,” a 6’4” newcomer to the rodeo clown scene that just may be recognized by some, especially Kiwanis members.
Miss Rodeo USA Trisha Smeenk, from South Dakota, will visit Statesboro before the rodeo rolls in and will make visits around town for autograph opportunities, Poe said.
Anyone who wishes to sponsor the rodeo and host a visit from Smeenk is invited to contact Anderson or Poe.
She also will be in the region for other Hedrick Rodeo Company events, including rodeos in Brunswick and Blairsville, Hedrick said.
“Justin Thigpen, IPRA World champion steer wrestler from Waycross, is competing in this rodeo,” he said.
He and Smeenk, along with other contestants, will be present during special events at Anderson’s General Store in the days preceding the rodeo, Bill Anderson said.
Though the same size, the arena will be in a different spot, and many more vendors and sponsors are expected this year, he said.
Last year’s rodeo was such a success, it drew national attention.
“This rodeo ended up in the top five in the nation,” Hedrick said.
With new attractions and an expanded show, that rank could get even better, he said.
“We have more contestants, more livestock, and horses we raised on our ranch,” he said.
A mare who was injured last year when she ran into a panel and stumbled will return; Black Pearl is expected to foal soon and will be at the rodeo with her new baby.
Hedrick invited local riders to attend the rodeo and participate in the opening parade. Locals are also invited to compete, although they will be up against champion cowgirls and cowboys. Contestants must call a week ahead and register with Hedrick in order to ride.
“We’re really looking forward to coming back,” he said. “This was a fun show for me and my family.”
Poe said prize money is increased this year as well. Since IPRA points are amassed by the number of dollars won, that should be of interest to the professional riders.
“Our added money is $1,000 per event.”
“This is quality family entertainment,” Hedrick said. “You’re not going to be seeing the same show. We expect to see seven second calf roping. I can’t tie my show in seven seconds! When it comes down to being an athlete, these guys amaze me.”
Hedrick is a former rodeo champion himself. He now owns a rodeo company and works as a pickup man for the bronc riding events. His wife Jessica is a trick rider and plans to ride three horses at once during the April shows. Their children Justin and Emily also trick ride and will participate in the shows.
As the rodeo dates approach, additional details will be released about promotional events and demonstrations. For more information about sponsorships, contact Poe at (912) 541-0411 or Anderson at (912) 541-6447.
Anyone interested in competing in the rodeo can contact Hedrick at (865) 556-9154.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.