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Kiwanis cancels rodeo amid COVID concerns
In this 2019 file photo, Jacob Daniell of Monroe, Ga., misses the mark as he dives off his horse during the steer wrestling competition at the Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo. The rodeo has been cancelled this year due to COVID-19 concerns. (SCOTT BRYANT/Herald file)

No cowboys, no beauty queen, no bull — the 10th annual Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo has been canceled.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the local Kiwanis Club have decided that holding the rodeo is not worth the health risk, said President-elect Ashlee Hooks Corbin. The highly popular event has been bringing an International Pro Rodeo Association competition to Statesboro for 10 years now. Hedrick Rodeo Company of Madisonville, Tennessee, has partnered with the club since the beginning, but not this year.

“I am mighty disappointed,” said rodeo company owner Danny Hedrick.

The event is always held in the spring and originally was slated for April 17– 18, then tentatively postponed until Aug. 28– 29. However, as the rescheduled date approaches and the coronavirus remains a threat, the decision was made to skip this year’s rodeo.

“Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and the national, state and local directives, and the Kiwanis Club of Statesboro’s concern for the safety of our community and our patrons,” the club made the decision after closely monitoring the situation, Corbin said.

It was not easy, but necessary, said rodeo committee chairman Bill Anderson.

“Canceling the rodeo was a very difficult decision to make,” he said. “After consultation with local authorities and noting the continuing high number of COVID-19 cases in Bulloch County and throughout the state of Georgia, the downside risks from a health and safety standpoint just seemed greater than the upside potential at this time.”

Corbin said there were “many contributing factors in the decision-making process, but the main factor was the safety of the community and Kiwanians.”

Statesboro isn’t alone in canceling rodeos. Hedrick said he has not worked in months due to COVID cancellations.

“Well, we work, but no work for pay,” he said Friday, as he continued tasks around his ranch while speaking by phone with the Statesboro Herald.

He said they have been catching up on fencing and other ranch work, but have not held a rodeo “since March.”

He hopes an event in Virginia next week gets things back on track, and if nothing else happens, he has a full schedule ahead of that.

“The thing is, they (cattle and horses) eat even when they aren’t working.”

Hedrick raises rodeo stock for use in his own rodeos as well as others. He said he looks forward to returning to Statesboro in the spring.

Statesboro Kiwanis looks forward to that as well, said club President Chris Caplinger.

“This was a hard decision for the club to make, but the health and safety of our community must come first,” he said. “We look forward to a great rodeo in 2021.”

The rodeo is a fundraiser for the club, with all profits donated back into Statesboro and surrounding areas. The event is one of two main fundraisers hosted by the club; the annual Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair each fall is the other.

“The Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo is an event geared toward entertaining the community, but the safety of our community is of the utmost importance to the club,” Corbin said. “This decision was not made lightly.”

The Statesboro Kiwanis Club, founded in 1960, is a non-profit organization and is part of an international effort to help children in need. The majority of the club’s efforts benefit children in the local community. A portion of the funds raised go to help meet Kiwanis International objectives, which focus on the special needs of young children, from prenatal development to age 5.


Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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