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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Rodeo set to begin tonight

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Sikeston Jaycee Craig Cox checks the automatic watering system for the rough stock at the Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo.
SIKESTON - The nation's top rodeo competitors will have their choice of six events at the 52nd Annual Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo this week.

The rodeo begins at 7 o'clock each evening. The competition starts with bareback riding followed by steer wrestling. Saddle bronc riding is next followed by tie down roping and barrel racing. The last competition each night before the music starts is bull riding.

"We've got probably the top five cowboys in each event," said Eugene Stroud, president of the Jaycee's rodeo board of directors. "This year is going to be full of talent."

The goal for the "roughstock" events - saddle bronc, bareback, and bull riding - is an eight-second ride, For the timed events, tie-down calf roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing, "they want the lowest time possible," Stroud said.

A barrel race lasts around 15-20 seconds. Steer wrestling and tie down roping take "usually anywhere between three and five seconds," according to Stroud. "It's quick - you don't blink. Especially with the big boys."

This is the second year the rodeo will not include bullfighting. "Wrangler had stopped their professional involvement with bullfighting, number one," Stroud said. "Since Wrangler pulled out, we had to start paying for bullfights."

The cost for Jaycees to include the event was somewhere around $20,000 to $25,000 per year. Additionally, as it was no longer a sanctioned event by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, there were no points being awarded for competitions and no championship event to look forward to for competitors. "It was getting harder and harder finding bullfighters," Stroud said.

The Jaycees do plan to bring the number of competitions back up to seven soon.

"We're still hoping to get team roping in here within the next five years," said Stroud. "Last year we revised our format. We moved the entertainment to the end in hopes we could move things around and fit team roping in."

Stroud said the Jaycees still have more adjustments to make, however. "We will have to bring in more stock, so we will have to build more pens," he said.

If everything goes as scheduled, "we will finish with bull riding just before 9 p.m.," Stroud said. Barring unforeseen difficulties, "the star will usually be coming on about 9:30, 9:45 at the latest."

In addition to changing the time for the musical performances, the Jaycees also introduced the "T-Shirt Throw" last year in which they take sponsor and rodeo T-shirts "and slingshot them into the crowd," Stroud said. "We're going to do that again this year."

During the T-shirt throw, Jimmy Gibson of Gibson Construction will perform "his usual dance routine," he added.

Rodeo fans can pick up a "day sheet" to help them keep track of what's going on, Stroud said. "It shows the riders, the order of events, a menu of our concession items," he said.

Stroud said his favorite part of the rodeo happens after the musical entertainment is finished and the stage is pulled back out, however.

"After the performance Wednesday and Thursday we have 'slack,'" he said. Only a limited number of barrel racing, calf roping and steer wrestling qualifying rounds can take place during the performance times, so the remainder are held after the rodeo until around 3-5 a.m., "depending on the number of contestants," Stroud explained.

Concession aren't offered during this time, "but the public is more than welcome to stay and watch," he said. "Those guys are really out there working."

There is usually about 75-100 hard-core rodeo fans that hang out, Stroud said. "They usually sit in section R and Q right next to the bulldogging chute. ... Everybody just has a good time."