The newest rodeo venue in the area is also the most

unique. Since beginning in a barn with about 100 people in attendance, the

Cowboy Church of Orange County has relocated, built a church building, hosts

about 400 each Sunday service, and built a rodeo arena.

Saturday, August 13, the arena hosted its first

Bulls and Barrels event. The arena is only partially completed, but is fully

functional. There are six bucking chutes, a center alleyway, an announcer’s

stand, and a concession area. You do not need much else to put on a good show.

The events were broken up with a mix of Mutton Busting, Jr., and Sr. Bulls,

Peewee, Jr., and Sr. Barrels. There were a few of each event at a time. This

was an idea that worked very well by breaking up the action and keeping it all


The present arena lighting is a set of generator

powered lights. The bleachers are only half completed. This was not a problem

for the 600 in attendance. The rest rooms are portable. None of this hampered

the quality of the show, or the enjoyment of those in attendance. One spectator

was heard to remark, “This was like turning the clock back and going to the

kind of small town rodeo they don’t have any more.”

Lasting about two and one half hours, the show was a

throwback to the Saturday night rodeos that were held in many small towns in

many areas, many years ago. Everything was laid back and relaxed, well thought

out, and done with an eye to see what needed to be done to make things better

in the future.

The Cowboy Church of Orange County functions as a

ministry to the folks that have a love of the western lifestyle, and, or want

to worship in a relaxed, casual manner. The church welcomes any one from any

lifestyle. You do not have to own or ride a horse, compete in rodeo, work on a

ranch, or even wear a big hat and boots. It is a totally come as you are church

that wants to teach and live the love of Christ in a unique way. The major

outreach program of the church is rodeo.

Each week from Tuesday through Friday nights is an

event in the arena. “We have some guys in our church who are very good ropers

and they like to teach roping. These guys meet with kids as young as ten and

help them get started roping. Another night we have team sorting. If you do not

know much about that we have riders who are good sorters who will give you a

start in that,” said Pastor Dale Lee. “One night is barrel racing practice. We

roll out the barrels and let any one that wants to practice come out and run

the barrels.”

The only thing that approaches cost for the participants

is the willingness to listen to a short devotional with each session. After

all, they are participating in a church ministry.

The church is sponsoring a buckle series of play day

events. August 27, September 24, and October 29 are the dates of the current

series. Rodeo dress code is in effect and contestants must compete in two of

the three events to have their points count toward the championship buckle. The

play day events are a lead line event for contestants five years of age and

younger. The progression then goes to Stick Horse Barrels, Mutton Busting,

Speed Race, Cloverleaf Barrels, Flag Race, Baton Race, and Pole Bending. Registration

is each night at 6:30 p.m. with the show starting at 7:00 p.m.

As evidenced by the Bulls and Barrels show, events

at the Cowboy Church are family oriented. There is no alcohol allowed on the

premises. The music played during the show is country-western. You know you are

at a rodeo and not a rock show. Nothing is hurried along, yet everything at the

show moved along at a comfortable pace.

3M Rodeo Company furnished the bulls and brought a

great pen. The bulls were consistent performers, and knew where to go and what

to do when their eight seconds was over. Another thing noted about the bulls is

that they were all close in size. Any of the 3M bulls could have given any

rider a chance at good points.

To conduct any rodeo anywhere there has to be a

little money involved. It was a good indicator to see that there were three

major sponsors. The Horseman Western and Work Center of Orange, Herreras’

Towing of Vidor, and Cormier’s Well Service of Orangefield had banners on the fence

and arena gates. Their sponsorship helped in not only staging the show, but also

provided the $500 added prize money.

This rodeo outreach of the Cowboy Church was very

well thought out and conducted in its debut. Things will only get better as

time goes by. Information on any of the events and about the entire church

program is available on the church’s website:

For those old enough to have attended rodeos at the

old Tin Top Arena, this could have been its offspring.