Walters State’s Ranch Rodeo kicks off at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Great Smoky Mountains Expo Center in White Pine. The Ranch Rodeo features teams of professional cowboys and cowgirls competing in events like calf doctoring and branding.
This year’s event features special guests Dusti Crain and Justin Dickerson, performers at Dollywood’s Dixie Stampede. The two are among the South’s best-known Roman Riders. The style is also called trick riding. The crowd might, for example, see Dickerson riding astride two horses or see Crain circle the arena while hanging from the saddle.
The event has plenty of room for audience participation. Children ages 2 to 4 can enter the stick horse race. (Bring your own or borrow one from the Ag Club.) Young cowboys and cowgirls can also participate in the calf ribbon chase.
Roger Brooks, head of Walters State’s agriculture program and advisor to the Ag Club, said the event promises fun for both old farmhands and city folks.
“You’re going to see people doing the work that actually takes place on a ranch. What you’ll see is just how difficult and how challenging some chores can be and the results are pretty entertaining,” Brooks said.
This is the fourth ranch rodeo and Brooks said audience participation has become a big part of the event. Brooks noted that care has been taken to make sure no animals are harmed during the Ranch Rodeo. For example, calves will be “branded” with paint. A veterinarian will be present throughout the event.
The Ranch Rodeo is part of the Ag Club Winter Horse Series. Since its inception, over $80,000 has been raised.
For students, the horse series is part of a class teaching agriculture event management. The series provides a chance for agriculture students to meet and work with agriculture alumni.
Admission for the Ranch Rodeo is $10 for adults and $5 for students aged 7-17. Children six and under will be admitted free. Tickets are available at the door.