By Poppy Moe
Special to the Pioneer
Every year the rodeo is different: different contestants, different livestock and different entertainment.
We are always glad to see our regular favorite cowboys and cowgirls return to Williston for the Annual Rodeo, but it is never the same.
A common question is, “What can we expect when we come to the Rodeo?''
The answer is “Expect the unexpected!”
No one can predict what wild bucking bulls, bucking broncs, steers and calves will do in the rodeo arena. That is what makes the sport so exciting.
Sept. 24 and Sept. 25 at 8 p.m. the fast paced rodeo action will begin. The opening ceremony sets the stage for the night’s action with a tribute to God and country.
The horse riding event will be first on the agenda. This event will consist of two types: Saddle Bronc and Bareback Riding.
The Saddle Bronc Riding is known as the “classic event of rodeo.” It was one of the first informal contests where cowboys met on the open range long before rodeo evolved to see which cowhand could ride or even tame a wild bucking horse. To ride a Saddle Bronc the cowboy puts his feet in the stirrups, holds the rein in one hand and attempts to ride for eight seconds.
In the Bareback Riding the cowboy holds on to a suitcase-type handle attached to a leather rigging that is cinched around the high jumping, hard bucking twisting horse. In both events two judges score the horse on how well they buck and the rider on his ability and skill.
There are four events where the cowboy or cowgirls compete to see who can complete their event in the fewest seconds.
In the Steer Wrestling, contestants ride their horse along side a running steer and jumps off their horse, catching the steer’s right horn in the crook of their right arm. The cowboy with his legs extended forward slows the steer’s forward motion and uses his left hand as leverage under the steer’s jaw allowing him to wrestle the steer to the ground.
The Tie Down roping is a coordinated effort of the horse and the rider against time. The calf is given a head start with the roper in hot pursuit. While in full run the cowboy must catch the calf, dismount his horse, throw the calf and tie any three legs. The roper must remount his horse taking a step forward and the calf must remain tied for six seconds for a qualified time.
Team Roping is the only event that is not an individual sport. It consists of two cowboys working as one as the header ropes the steer’s horns, dallies his rope and turns the steer away from the second cowboy called the heeler. The heeler must catch the steer’s hind legs and dally. When both cowboys have made their catch, stopped their horses facing in toward each other and are holding the steer, the clock is stopped thus recording the time.
Somewhere about the middle of the rodeo there will be an exhibition of Mounted Cowboy Shooting. The two shooters are our own favorite members of the Williston Horseman's Rodeo Committee, Linda Woulf and Duke Reid. Both are rated # 3 class Single Action Shooters Society contestants. This is a demonstration of shooting balloons from horseback at a run. Don't worry. They shoot blanks.
Ladies in the Barrel Racing compete for the fastest time in running a triangular, cloverleaf pattern around three barrels. Success in this event depends not only on the speed of the horse but on the skill and training of both the horse and rider.
Bull riding has been voted the most exciting and favorite spectator event of the rodeo. Eight seconds must seem like an eternity while trying to remain on the back of an animal that weigh close to a ton that doesn’t want you to ride him but that is what the bull rider must accomplish if he is to make a qualified ride. Upper body control and strong legs are essential to riding bulls. The two rodeo officials watch for good body position and use of the cowboy’s free arm and for any spurring action as they score the ride. Spurring is not required but enhances the rider’s score. As in the Bronc and Bareback Riding, Bull Riding scores are calculated by the contestant’s performance and the animal’s effort.
Between the rodeo events the spectators are entertain by the rodeo clown or specialty act. This year at the Williston Horseman's Rodeo, Allan Dessel will help keep you entertained by stealing your date or showing off his many dance moves. This Iowa native doesn’t always understand southern lingo and can get himself into some messes. At some point each night during the rodeo children, ages 5-10 are allowed into the arena to compete in a boot scramble.
The gates open at 5:30 PM on both Friday & Saturday nights and any Rodeo fans arriving early will have fun looking at the livestock and Riding the Mechanical Bull, shopping the Western vendors and having their picture taken on the real live pet bull furnished by Kirk Brown. Concession standwill be open early.
If you are in a rush leaving work and making it to the rodeo you don’t have to worry about getting supper ready because the Williston Horseman's Association concession stand has you covered. They have a the great Barbeque Rib & Chicken dinners and a large variety of hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, candy, etc and plenty of cold drinks.
Tickets purchased at the gate are $12 and kids 5 and under free. Advanced tickets are $10.00 and are on sale at Kloverleaf Tack in Williston, Chiefland Farm Supply in Chiefland, and RCC Western Stores in Ocala and Gainesville. For any information about the rodeo call 352-843-5558