Bulls and Barrels at the Cowboy Church
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 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: www.cowboychurchorangecounty.org
For those old enough to have attended rodeos at the
old Tin Top Arena, this could have been its offspring.