Brave men will hold on tight as their steeds rear back, buck and kick during the 12th annual Knights of Columbus PRCA Rodeo Thursday.  

The event, which runs Thursday through Saturday, March 27-29 at the Young County Arena, will feature a plethora of all things rodeo to entertain eager attendees.

The three-day event starts with a grand entrance from the Six White Horses of Hardin-Simmons University and six HSU students. The trained white horses will prance around the arena in a choreographed routine. That will be followed by a presentation of flags by HSU and an appearance by the rodeo queen contestants. 

The entertainment doesn't stop there, as rodeo attendees can watch bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping and barrel racing. Two of the most popular events remain bull riding and barrel racing. 

All of these events and the rodeo itself would not be made possible without donations from sponsors including Bailey Auto Plaza and Ram Series PRCA Rodeo, most of which are local, said Jason McCall, rodeo co-chair.

“The whole goal for rodeo is to raise money to give back to the community. It's the only reason (the rodeo) exists,” McCall said. “Aside from providing a fun time once a year, we're going to have close to 400 participants. They will stay in hotel rooms and eat at restaurants. In addition to the charitable and entertainment factor, it's benefiting the town because of all the people that are coming in for it.”

In turn, proceeds from ticket sales benefit local organizations.

“It's produced by the Knights of Columbus, so all of the money that we make at the gate gets donated back into the community,” he said.

Chet Smith of Rapid City, S.D., manages to stay on Rock Star during saddle bronc riding at the rodeo last year.
Chet Smith of Rapid City, S.D., manages to stay on Rock Star during saddle bronc riding at the rodeo last year. (Julianne Murrah)

According to McCall, the rodeo has donated more than $110,000 in the past 11 years. Organizations receiving proceeds include the Graham Community Food Pantry, the Library of Graham, the Lone Star 4-H Club, Turning Point Substance Abuse Council, the Young County Junior Livestock Show, Virginia's House, the Young County Humane Society and local Cub Scout packs.

Don Oldfield, executive director of the Graham Community Food Pantry and Crisis Center, said that the food pantry has benefitted from the rodeo since the beginning.

“As far as food bank operations go, it obviously means we can buy more food,” Oldfield said. “Every dollar goes a long way for us (because we are) purchasing food at 16 cents a pound. It makes a substantial impact on us, just for general operations of the Crisis Center, and what we need for funding to keep the place going. It's very important to us and to charities that benefit from it as well.”

Kim Baxter, executive director of the Humane Society of Young County, said that the donations impact the shelter in a major way.

“Since last year was kind of a tough year, we purchased dog houses and dog food with the funds,” Baxter said. “This year we will purchase vaccines (with donated funds).” 


Rodeo Events

• Rodeo starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday

• Events include bull riding, bareback, saddle bronc, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping and barrel racing, a kid's calf and nickel scramble 

• Rodeo dances will follow after the rodeo. Friday night's band is Grupo Leon Band, and Saturday, Black Dutch Sioux. There will be a cooler charge; no glass bottles are allowed.

• Rodeo queen will be crowned Saturday 

• Rodeo parade to kick-off at 2 p.m. Saturday at Fifth and Oak streets on the Downtown Square. To participate, just show up between 1:30-1:45 p.m.

• Tickets to the rodeo cost $10 for adults; $5 for children 5-11; and free for children 4 and under and military personnel in uniform, and are available at Graham Convention and Visitors Bureau at 608 Elm; Bailey Auto Plaza; Wildcatter Ranch; Welch Western Wear; Farmers Milling Co.; J&N Feed Store; Graham Chamber of Commerce; or at the gate at the arena

Read more in Wednesday's Graham Leader.