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By Lisa Scott
Special to The SUN
A traditional American rodeo is a must-see event.
While cowboys and cowgirls from various states compete for prizes and prize money in this sanctioned rodeo series, the event is also filled with a variety of exhibition events to make an entertaining affair.
The Old Fort Days Dandies, an equestrian drill team, will perform daily. These young women are based out of Fort Smith, Ark., and are the goodwill ambassadors of the Old Fort Days Rodeo, a PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association) event.
These teenage girls, ages 12-19, are chosen for their riding skills, character, scholastic achievements and superior horsemanship. All of these prerequisites are of great importance because of the dedication to practicing and performing, the difficult maneuvers that are demanded of them, and the exemplary character they are asked to maintain.
Fans anxiously await their breathtaking performances that include a square dance on horseback and an American flag presentation. It’s not unusual to see two horses gallop at full throttle toward one another, deliberately passing within inches, then take position to wind and dance through a complicated geometric pattern.
The Dandies are charter members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and serve as good will ambassadors at rodeos and events around the country sharing their energy and enthusiasm.
Rodeo clowns are both entertainers and bullfighters. World famous rodeo clown Timber Tuckness will perform his singing, dancing, joking and pantomime act this year. The PRCA has named him Rodeo Clown of the Year eight times. The primary job of the rodeo clown is to protect the cowboy and prevent a tragedy with dangerous livestock while working the crowd during the lulls in the action.
A special appearance will be made by Red Ryder each day. Red was the feature cowboy character in the popular long-running western comic strip created by Stephen Slesinger and artist Fred Harman. Red, and his horse, Thunder, was a tough cowboy who lived on Painted Valley Ranch in the Blanco Basin in the San Juan Mountains. He and his sidekick, Little Beaver, with his horse, Papoose, dealt with the bad guys of the day.
Each Red Ryder Rodeo begins with an impressive grand entry, with flags waving from westerners on horseback. Other rodeo events are interspersed with a variety of other antics like the Mutton Bustin’ contest, Daisy BB gun raffle and the presentation of the honorary Red Ryder Award. The reigning queen, Morgan Schaaf, and Princess DeAnn Schaaf will preside over the festivities.
Additionally, McKenzies Mill will perform at two concerts, July 4 and 6, each at 6 p.m. in the rodeo arena. The group has been called country; they have been called rock n’ roll, and are characterized by their electrifying rock and roll stage presence, small town southern stories, and undeniable sibling harmonies. McKenzies Mill is causing quite a buzz in Nashville.
This year marks the 64th anniversary of the Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo. The rodeos are Thursday, July 4, at 2 p.m.; Friday, July 5, at 7 p.m.; and Saturday, July 6, at 2 p.m. — presented at the Western Heritage Event Center arena and grounds.
Tickets are available at Goodman’s Department Store and Wyndham Activities Center, and at the gate prior to the event. The cost is $10 per adult and $6 for children 12 and under. A limited number of box seats are available and can be purchased by calling 264-5000. A variety of concessions are available throughout the events.
More rodeo information is available by calling 264-2730.