For rodeo enthusiasts and families looking for fun over the weekend on April 8-9, that suited them just fine.
Held at Larry Haney Arena, the turnout at the two-day event surprised organizers and those involved in the Rockmart High School chapter of Future Farmers of America, which earned proceeds from the rodeo.
“We had a huge crowd out here on Friday night,” Larry Haney said. “It was probably the biggest we’ve ever had at the arena. Apparently something’s working.”
Those who arrived early each night got to enjoy a midway complete with food, clothes, cowboy accessories and attractions like a rock wall, pony rides and a mechanical bull.
Russ and Ashley Hopkins of Aragon stood by as their daughter Autumn and nephew Payton Mulkey waved at steers in a pen near the entrance.
“This was kind of a last-minute thing,” Russ said. “We told them just a bit before we got here and they’ve been talking about cows and horses ever since.”
The pair of 2-year-olds and spectators were not disappointed as a full slate of rodeo events sanctioned by the International Professional Rodeo Association provided plenty of entertainment.
Among each evening’s activities was a new event specifically for RHS FFA members where groups of two students had to put a flank strap on a steer and one of them ride it across a finish line in the arena.
“It was probably the most entertaining thing last night,” Rockmart FFA adviser J.D. Malone said prior to the Saturday night performance.
Malone and the FFA worked parking for the event and sold shirts while also selling tickets for 50-50 drawings.
“It’s been good,” he said. “It lets the public see the FFA out and around. Larry has been great about getting the FFA involved with the rodeo.”
The group teamed up with the traditional annual rodeo last August for the first time and had been talking with Haney about trying to start up a spring rodeo again.
The preparation came during a busy time where the club sent contestants to six different competitions in the months of February and March.
They had a second place and two third places at the region Junior Environment and Natural Resources Competition and had one – Savannah Norman – qualify for state with a first place in livestock judging.
“We’re going to try to make it a little bigger every year,” Malone said of the rodeo. “And we thank Larry because without him it would not be possible.”
Local contestants competed in the rodeo and one of the winners included Aragon’s Blake Arp, who won the bareback competition with a score of 79 points.