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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

For Stoner, event is family affair

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Lloyd Stoner and his son, Grant, work on the rodeo grounds.
SIKESTON - With his son's small hand clasped tightly in his, Lloyd Stoner walks across the rodeo arena. For the toddler, the grounds are a marvel of machines and men; Stoner, as the 2004-05 general chairman, sees work to be done and details to attend to before Wednesday's opening of the 52nd Annual Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo.

Taking his son with him to a rodeo workday is something of a tradition for the Stoner family. Stoner still recalls being 4 years old and watching his own father heading up the rodeo as the general chairman in 1975.

"It has just been kind of a goal of mine to be chairman," said Stoner. "I've been involved with the Jaycees for 12 years and now, here I am."

Like the rodeo general chairmen before him, Stoner worked his way up to the position. Over the years Stoner has chaired various areas including the pageants, parade, pen and chutes and the grounds. He was a member of the Rodeo Board and last year was the co-chairman of the rodeo.

But even after more than a decade of active involvement the job of chairman is bigger than he realized. "There are different things you really don't know about - lots of details and jobs to do to make it happen for the four days," he said.

As general chairman he strives to keep up with the daily operations of the rodeo and in close touch with the chairmen of the various activities. It is the general chairman who worries if the bills are paid, concessions are ordered, the food will get there on time, the chutes are fixed and the stock has arrived, he explained.

The work, Stoner added, began even before he got the title. As co-chairman in 2003, he began planning this year's event then after the last night of rodeo, the title of general chairman officially was bestowed.

"I've worked on it pretty steady until January then after January it becomes like another job," said Stoner, who is employed by Pyramid Roofing Co. in Sikeston. "I work every day then have to fit rodeo business in between everything else and at nights and on weekends. I knew it would take a lot of time but not this much time."

Stoner is pleased at the improvements the Jaycees have made in the rodeo grounds. He pointed out the arena fence is new and livestock pens are now metal rather than wood.

Also he is proud the Jaycee Rodeo continues to draw some of the top athletes in the country. "We are going to have some great contests. There are world champions coming and several past world champions. Of course, Rick Young - the Agin' Cagin' - will be back. He is always fun to be around and loves being a part of the Sikeston community."

As chairman, Stoner often reads the e-mail from the rodeo's Website. He said he likes the fact there are so many fans who come back year after year, while new fans are drawn in as new entertainers are presented.

But best of all, according to the general chairman, is he gets to help present the proceeds of the rodeo to various organizations. Each year, Stoner pointed out, the rodeo raises thousands of dollars which is reinvested in the community.

"It is something that makes me feel good because then people can see what Jaycees do," said Stoner, adding it isn't just Jaycees who make the rodeo a success but the many volunteers and sponsors, who also pitch in.

Also Stoner said he likes just taking some time to stop and enjoy the rodeo action.

As he watched the rodeo as a child and later as adult, bull riding has become one of his favorite sports. Not only is there the excitement of watching the rider try to stay on the massive bull for an eight second ride, the tension builds as the rider tries to get away and the protection men work to distract the bull, he explained.

But this year, Stoner knows exactly when his favorite moment will be.

"It will be Saturday night because everything is over with," he said. "Hopefully the rodeo will go well and I will know I did good job and everyone will have enjoyed it." Then, Stoner added, he will go home, rest and spend time with his wife and two sons.

While he knows it is a tough job, Stoner admitted he would like to see the family tradition continue and his son take the reins as rodeo general chairman someday.

"I sure would like that," said Stoner. "I hope the rodeo is still going strong, giving back even more money to the community then now and that he can be a part of that and continue the legacy of the rodeo."