Fall may mean fair time around Statesboro, but when spring rolls around, everyone knows it’s rodeo time.
The Statesboro Kiwanis Club is looking forward to its seventh year of bringing quality family entertainment to town for the annual rodeo, slated for April 21–22 at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fairgrounds on Highway 67.
Danny Hedrick, owner of Hedrick Rodeo, was in town Tuesday to discuss plans for the event and promised a new, exciting show.
“You’ll never see the same show two years in a row,” he said.
Hedrick and his family — wife Jessica, son Justin and daughter Emily — have partnered with the Statesboro Kiwanis Club since 2011 to bring the family-oriented rodeo to town and has met with sell-out crowds every year, said Kiwanis Club member and rodeo chairman Bill Anderson.
This year’s rodeo will draw the same vendors and offer some of the same promotions but will feature different specialty acts and riders from all over the world, as well as some from around the area. Hedrick said a new clown, Colt Hart, will split your sides with laughter. He wouldn’t disclose Hart’s trademark skit but teased that it includes a hilarious surprise for the crowd.
Hedrick’s daughter, Emily, and her friend Allison Roberts, a rider with the Dixie Stampede out of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, will be trick riding at each show, performing such acts as the “suicide drag” in which a rider hangs precariously from the saddle upside down, the hippodrome and the one-foot stand.
This is a real rodeo, sanctioned by the International Professional Rodeo Association, and will include steer wrestling, barrel racing, team roping, bareback and saddle bronc riding and the ever-popular bull riding. World champions will compete along with local riders, and Hedrick has some champion livestock in his pens as well.
He has long been breeding his own bucking horses, some of which have gained recognition by the Southern Professional Rodeo Association. The first year Hedrick brought his show to Statesboro, a young mare named Black Pearl was slightly injured when she didn’t go back to the pens as she should, but Hedrick brought her back the next year with her new foal, Shamrock, in tow, just to show spectators she was fine.
“He takes great care of his animals,” Anderson said.
However, this year, Black Pearl may not return, because she just had a colt — a sorrel-colored little guy with a perfect crescent wrench-shaped blaze on his face.
“He’ll probably be named Monkey Wrench,” Hedrick said.
A breeder of high-quality bucking and roping horses for years, Hedrick recently bought a “pen” (group) of top bloodline bucking bulls, with champions including a bull named Little White Soldier and another named Cool Speck found in their breeding.
He isn’t sure whether he will begin breeding his own rodeo bulls, but the purchase of these means he won’t be leasing them, as many rodeo contractors do, he said.
“This time, all the stock I bring will be mine,” he said. “I got to the point where I wanted to have it all.”
In more than 13 years of being a rodeo contractor, Hedrick Rodeo company has seen its share of awards, including recognition this year for the younger Hedrick’s trick-riding act, which won the Contract Act of the Year award for the SPRA, as well as Hedrick’s company being named Stock Contractor of the Year and his horses wining Bronc of the Year.
Another thing that will be new to Hedrick’s show is the opening. The parade around the arena will include local riders as usual, but this year’s theme is patriotic, and a brand new song written and performed by his friend and former rodeo rider Bob Corley, called “Fightin’ For That Flag,” will be sure to get attention. The song has a strong message about loyalty and pride in America, he said.
“It’s a song with meaning to it,” Hedrick said.
Anderson said Sandra’s Hats, Back Porch Grille, L&D Produce, Famous Funnel Cakes and Kiwanis Barbecue will be back, as well as Party Harbor’s inflatables, All American camel and pony rides and a mechanical bull.
Miss Rodeo USA will be on hand the week of the rodeo, too, visiting sponsors and greeting people at the rodeo’s nighttime shows.
The promotional contests will return as well, Anderson said. The Guess the Weight of the Bull contest will be the held April 20 at Anderson’s General Store. Contestants guess the weight of a rodeo bull that will be at the business, and the closest guess wins a prize.
During the rodeo, the Boot Toss will mean a chance for someone to win a Ford vehicle worth $20,000, provided by sponsor J.C. Lewis Ford.
To enter, one must visit either Anderson’s General Store or J.C. Lewis Ford, fill out a form and then hope that their name is one of three selected each night of the rodeo, Anderson said.
Out of the three finalists each night, one will get a chance to toss a men’s size 10 boot 45 feet and try to ring a 17-inch barrel opening, he said.
The other two chosen will try the same game but for a pair of boots, he said. The contest is each night, but if someone wins the vehicle Friday, all three names chosen Saturday will toss for boots.
“We’re only giving away one vehicle,” he said.
Advance tickets for the rodeo are available at Anderson’s General Store: $12 for adults and $7 for kids. Prices at the gate will be $16 for adults and $11 for kids, he said.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.