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Saddle up, the rodeo's coming to the Boro
Promotional events to precede shows
042412 RODEO File
Playing to a sold-out crowd during the Kiwanis Rodeo at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fairgrounds last April, Brian Leddy of Leedey, Okla., manages to stay put for the winning ride in the bareback bronco competition. The rodeo will be returning to Bulloch County with three shows this week. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Expect to see lots of boots and cowboy hats in Statesboro this week as promotional events get underway for the second annual Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo.
Miss Rodeo USA, Trisha Smeenk, from South Dakota, is in town this week and will
visit schools and businesses as she attends several events.
With three shows – one Friday and two Saturday – Kiwanis rodeo chairmen Don Poe and Bill Anderson expect an even bigger turnout and advise those interested in attending to get their tickets early.
“We’ve increased our capacity by 50 percent,” Anderson said. That adds about 3,000 more tickets to the available pool, but considering the rodeo sold out last year and people were turned away at the gate, advance purchase is a good idea, he said.
Friday’s show begins at 7:30 p.m., but gates open at 5 p.m. for those who want to get a good seat and visit vendors.
Times are the same for Saturday show, but there will be a matinee event as well, Poe said. The daytime show will begin at 1 p.m., with gates opening at 11 a.m.
“The matinee show will be over around 4 p.m. and everyone will be cleared of the fairgrounds,” he said. An hour later, the gates will be reopened to admit people for the last show.
There will be different contestants and livestock for each show, rodeo company owner Danny Hedrick said.
Last year, thousands appeared for two shows as Hedrick Rodeo Company brought bulls, broncs and champion riders to compete in the International Professional Rodeo Association-sanctioned rodeo.
The rodeo is not just bulls and barrels, but will include calf roping, bull riding and steer wrestling as the professional rodeo gets underway, Hedrick said.
Billed as the “biggest little man in rodeo,” Pork Chop, a 4-foot-tall man who dodges angry bulls while making jokes, will be accompanied by a 6-foot-plus Poe, a.k.a. “Fry Daddy.”
Last year, a bucking horse named Black Pearl, named by Hedrick’s daughter Emily, was slightly injured when she skidded into a panel during one show.
Hedrick said the mare is fine and will be back this year. So will her new foal, a colt named Shamrock, who was born St. Patrick’s Day. The pair, along with all other stock, will be on display behind the arena. Hedrick breeds and raises all his stock from champion bloodlines, he said.
Advance tickets are available at Anderson’s General Store for $12 each. Tickets sold at the gate will be $15. The price includes a program book, Poe said.
“Proceeds go to charity,” Anderson said. The rodeo joins the annual Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair in raising funds 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.  
The arena will be in a different spot, and there are many more vendors and sponsors 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.”
Local riders are invited to participate in the opening parade as well as compete, although they will be up against champion cowgirls and cowboys. 
“We’re really looking forward to coming back,” Hedrick said. “This was a fun show for me and my family.”
Poe said there is more prize this year. Because International Professional Rodeo Association 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.”
In addition to competition, Hedrick’s wife, Jessica, is a trick rider and plans to ride three horses at once during the shows. Their children Justin and Emily also trick ride and will participate in the shows.
 
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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