The 34th annual Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo is just around the corner, and the “get ready” events have already begun.The program is being set for the publisher, T-shirt orders for all the Special Needs Rodeo participants are being processed, all the event and major sponsors have been secured, the Street Dance and Fashion Show are being planned, and committees of volunteers are receiving their instructions to complete a successful event. The Queen contestant applications are being processed, and in addition to all of the traditional goings on, the Sheriff’s Office staff and volunteers are making last minute plans for the biggest outdoor rodeo east of the Mississippi River.
What began 33 years ago as a means to supplement the purchase of patrol cars for the sheriff’s office has now blossomed into a community event that is second to none. Teresa Todd, President of the Athens Limestone Tourism Association estimates the revenue impact from the rodeo at over a million dollars locally. “It is important to all of us as fans, visitors and competitors that come to Limestone County every year for the rodeo, shop in local stores, buy gasoline, stay in local motels, eat in local restaurants, and generally boost our entire economy. We strive to match that gift by producing a fun filled event packed with family entertainment and fierce competition in all of the rodeo events,” said Sheriff Blakely.
Sheriff Blakely has always been a big fan of rodeo, even from his high school days when he would compete. “The rich tradition and values of rodeo are still alive in this community and are often relative to our parents’ teachings. Most of our parents taught us the same things that cowboys call the ‘Code Of The West’ to this day: ‘If it’s not yours, don’t take it; If it’s not true, don’t say it; If it’s not right, don’t do it.’ It is very humbling as an elected official to see this entire community support this event each and every year,” remarked Blakely.
This year the Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo is returning to an IPRA sanctioned event. The International Professional Rodeo Association sanction will mean the cream of the crop in professional competitors will make a stop in Athens to earn points toward the International Finals in Oklahoma City, OK next January. IPRA President Dale Yerigan remarked “We sanction 350 rodeos a year and the Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo will rank among the top 10 in prize money rodeos in the Nation. And Lone Star Rodeo Company will continue to produce a great rodeo with some of the most competitive stock on the circuit,” added Yerigan.
If you have never attended the “Greatest Show on Dirt,” you should join us on May 20 or 21 and see what you have been missing. Your family will thoroughly enjoy themselves, and you will be positively impacting the success of local law enforcement.
And if you have never attended the Special Needs Rodeo, you owe it to yourself to see how your community rallies around a group of people to make sure they have their day too. Just show up at the arena on Friday morning, May 20 at 10 a.m., and witness the outpouring of volunteers as they paint faces, help with roping and disco dancing, pin the star on the sheriff, horseback rides, the petting zoo, hay rides and much, much, more.
By: Paul Cain, Limestone County Deputy Sheriff