May, who owns and operates M & M Trailer Manufacturing located on Highway 62 East, sponsors Cody Martin, the world's 15th-ranked saddle bronc rider, and Lucas Kelly, a bull rider.
Both men will compete at the 52nd annual Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo which opens on Wednesday for a four-day run. "It's just something that I always wanted to do," said May, of his sponsorship duties. "I grew up knowing some members of Lucas' (Kelly) family and they introduced me to him. Then I met Cody (Martin) through Lucas. They're such good guys. They're more than business associates; they're great friends."
Kelly, a native of Benton, Ill., has been under May's sponsorship for four years and Martin, from Hatfield, Ark., is in his third year.
Said May, "I basically provide them with expense money and the kickback I receive is in the form of advertising. They go all over the U.S. and wear our shirts with the business name and location. So, the City of Sikeston is promoted as well."
The rodeo culture runs deep in the May family. Alfred is a former competitor and sons Garrett, 17, and Gavin, 14, both Sikeston Public Schools students, participate in the Missouri High School Rodeo Association program in calf roping and bulldogging events.
Martin, a rising star on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit, joined the PRCA in 2000.
The former Arkansas High School state champion ('94) and the College National Finals Rodeo champion in 2002 earned PRCA Rookie-of-the-Year honors in his initial professional campaign.
He finished 13th in the 2003 world standings and is currently ranked ninth on the Wrangler ProRodeo Summer Tour among saddle bronc riders.
Kelly, off to a slow start this season, is a top-50 class bull rider who won the Great Lakes Circuit championship in 2002.
In addition to Kelly and Martin, May also sponsors veteran barrelman Rick Young.
"Rick is a rodeo clown that I've been working with for four years," said May.
"He's been coming to the Bootheel Rodeo for 46 years. You won't meet a better person.
Added May, "All these guys love the Sikeston stop and wouldn't miss it."
In an interview in a recent issue of Western Horseman magazine, Young recounted how he got the Sikeston rodeo job.
He said he was at a rodeo in Tennessee in 1957 when he heard that the Sikeston Rodeo Committee was there and was considering hiring him.
"I was jumping the bulls, getting run over, getting on their backs and doing anything I could to impress them," said Young.
"I was even taking them (the committee) hamburgers. I found out later that they'd already decided to hire me.
"This (Bootheel Rodeo) has been a great rodeo for me. Sikeston is one of my favorite towns and rodeos, and the people are wonderful. I have more friends here than I do in my hometown of Tickfaw, La., and I'll keep coming back as long as they'll have me."