It is rodeo time again
With prayers for dry weather the Orange County Sheriff’s Posse is ready to go for another rodeo this weekend. “I hope it does not rain, it seems like it always rains at rodeo time,” said Becky Rhoden, rodeo chairman.
In the past rain has caused the rodeo to be postponed due to the parking area being too wet.
For the greater part of a century the rodeo sponsored by the Orange County Sheriff’s Posse has given area citizens the best small town rodeo in the region. Beginning in a now gone arena off of Old Highway 90, the rodeo moved into the arena once used by the Jaycees for their rodeo. The Posse never missed a beat; moving from one venue to another was just a step in progression.
The drill team continued to be the star attraction, as it will be again this year. The full slate of rodeo events is going full steam ahead, with a couple of added fun events. The money, except for what is needed for upkeep of the arena, goes back into the community in the form of scholarships for area seniors and donations to area agencies such as the American Red Cross and Salvation Army.
In the last 18 years of awarding scholarships the Posse has given seniors from four Orange County schools over $52,000 to continue their education.
Before he was a major movie star; Steve McQueen was a bounty hunter on a television series. He was also the guest star at the Orange rodeo. After Lee Majors was on the series “Big Valley” he became “The Six Million Dollar Man.” Majors followed McQueen to the Orange arena. Jimmy C. Newman had a major hit with the song “Alligator Man” and appeared in the Orange arena in a yellow suit with alligators on the sleeves and legs.
When contestants ride into the arena, they are following a history of unique rodeo. The Posse keeps the tradition alive by adding events such as a lamb scramble and calf dressing.
When the lamb is turned loose in the arena and sees a herd of kids chasing him the action gets fast and furious. The team of young guns attempting to get lingerie on a calf finds that it is not as easy as it seems, even if the panties are triple extra large size and the calf is small.
The calf scramble is an old favorite. An undetermined number of kids will attempt to chase down and pull the ribbon off of the calf’s tail for the grand sum of whatever the rodeo producer decides to put in the pot. It may be as small as a dollar. With sponsorships and added money there can be enough money to put the kid in a different tax bracket.
The regular rodeo events this year will give ropers three ways to toss the rope. There will be tiedown calf roping, team roping of steers, and breakaway roping.
The fast horse and pretty girl event, barrel racing, will bring some of the area’s best horses and riders out; attempting to turn the cloverleaf pattern in the fastest time, without knocking over a barrel; which earns a five second penalty.
Young rough stock riders will start where a lot of the professional bull riders started; sheep riding, or mutton busting as it is also called. The young rider will hold tight as the sheep runs and sometimes hops as fast as it can go to get away from whatever is on its back. The result is quite often on the humorous side.
Bull riders 14-18 will have a shot at winning money in the junior bull riding. The riders are smaller and the bulls are smaller, but just as mean as the big ones to come later in the show.
Senior bull riders are the guys that try to last eight seconds on a bull weighing as much as 1,800 pounds. Roped to the bull’s back, the rider tries to hold on with his riding hand, keep his balance with his free hand, grip with his knees and dig his spurs into the hide, all while trying to look like he has control of the ride. Hoping to impress the eagle eyed judge; he needs to win enough points to win enough money to pay his expenses to the next show.
At some point in the show the Orange County Sheriff’s Posse Drill Team will ride into the arena as they have in so many arenas for so many years. The drill team members furnish their own horses and pay their own expenses; doing what they love to do. Some of the members started at a young age and have continued until they were too old to climb into the saddle.
They ride into the arena in pairs to the accompaniment of music and listen for the drill master’s whistle. At the blast of the whistle they begin the routine that is as intricate as ballet, just done on horseback.
The rodeo is scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 16-17. Entry fees are set at $7 for adults and $4 for 12 and under. Advance tickets are on sale at David Self Ford. The dealership is a major rodeo sponsor this year.
Contestants may call (409) 745-1471, 6-10 p.m. to enter their event.
Calf dressing contestants may call Sharon Patton at (409) 781-1181 to obtain information about that event. For general rodeo information, call Rhoden at (409) 886-2638.
For information about the Orange County Sheriff’s Posse, go to orangecountysheriffsposse.com.
The arena is on Farm Road 105, a half-mile east of Texas 62.