All-American Entertainment

Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

I was so excited before I even got to the ticket booth; before we even got into the car I was practically raving, and even before I put on my straw cowboy hat trimmed with the turquoise stone that I bought last year at Boots and Bling in Senoia, I was babbling about the Rodeo! I piled on all the turquoise jewelry I owned. I was going to the Rodeo!
Finally, I had convinced Bill that I really “needed” to go to a Rodeo and here was one practically in our own neighborhood. Well, it was actually at the Coweta County Fairgrounds, but that was exactly 24 mins from our doorstep; so no good reason in the world NOT to go, now was there?
We arrived just before 8 p.m., purchased our tickets along with a number of folks in varied styles of Rodeo clothes; shorts and cowboy boots, t-shirts, jeans, and cowboy boots, sundresses and cowboy boots. Straw hats, leather hats, Ga Tech, and Braves hats. If you had forgotten your hat or never had one, never fear, you could buy one inside the gates where vendors had every style and size of Cowboy hat imaginable and plenty of MAGA hats as well. I forgot to look for a John Deere hat which I need for a play I am going to be in at the Sharpsburg Baptist Church in August. Darn. I bet they had those too. But I was too dazzled by the array of Belt Buckles, Leather hand-tooled belts, and just good ole Rodeo stuff that I forgot to look. I am so sorry that I did not ask Bill to get me one of those little white ropes that you twirl around just like my hero Roy Rogers. I had two dollars with me. I bet they were $10.
Anyway, I have had a burning desire (de-sy-ar) to see a genuine Rodeo ever since I got to see something sorta like a Rodeo in Tupelo, Mississippi when I was 18 years old. What I saw in Tupelo was really a Country Western Music Show where guys who were “Not” Elvis Presley were trying to make their singing heard over the auctioneer in the barn next to the arena. The livestock corralled in the big lot were close enough so that the “rodeo smell” was authentic, but thankfully, the bouquet of the carnival food overpowered the cow pens, and the aroma of Corn dogs, Cotton Candy, Pop Corn, and Parched Peanuts met me at the ticket booth and followed me all over the sawdust covered arena. That’s what I remember most.
The first authentic Rodeo we went to was located just out from Foley or Bay Minette, Alabama and it was a good one. We had been on the beach at Gulf Shores for a week and by Friday even Bill had had enough sea and sun so that I could have suggested a Reptile Farm and he would have agreed! You know what I mean right? Like how many air-brushed T-shirts, puka shell necklaces and colored-sand-filled bottles can one stand before Rodeo sounds really GOOD!
We were both impressed with the quality of riders at the Coweta Cattleman’s Show at this annual event; most were highly ranked National Champions and even an International Champion or two. The announcer said of one rider, “He’s so strong, he blows bubbles with beef jerky!” The contestants had each paid $100 entry fee per event. This was no Mickey Mouse show. Big Time Rodeo was going on in Coweta County Friday and Saturday night!
While the gates opened at 6 p.m., the most exciting and moving event was not until the 8 o’clock Grand entrance and anthem. Two or three riders rode slowly out of the gates; they wore chaps over jeans, starched bright, white dress shirts, and carried large American flags. A patriotic song played from the arena speakers and people applauded loudly. When the announcer asked everyone to stand for the National Anthem, even the little kiddies mimicked their parents by placing their hands over their tiny hearts. Of course, I cried. But you guessed that already, right?
Beautiful blonde Heather Morrison, Ms Rodeo 2019, rode out on a gentle blond horse carrying an American Flag, its stripes literally covering her head and flowing down and over her boots. She was followed by a parade of the entire assembly of horses and riders who would perform. Soon 10 or more lovely young women rode out and began a choreographed “dance;” that was something to see! Those gorgeous four-legged creatures’ coats shone, they stepped high and turned sharp and only one “acted up” as their dance was ending and they were exiting. Perhaps that pony just wanted another dance? The riding and roping and bull-dogging in the red-dirt ring was another spectacle.
Maybe some of this was taken for granted by seasoned Rodeo-goers, but not by me! At one moment during the calf roping, I was so breathless and excited that I dropped my coke (3/4 full) under the bleacher seats! No harm done. Thankfully there wasn’t a kid crawling around under there. And kids were everywhere! In fact it was Kid’s Night. The $5 ticket price brought out tons of families. So well- behaved, too. They were fun to watch—sitting or standing well behind the fence and the “police” style yellow ribbon. They danced, jumped and rode imaginary broncos. The adult crowd was also extremely polite and friendly; the only booing I heard was for the “bad boy” Clown during the Clown entertainment.
I wish I could convey the excitement of that evening. The sights, sounds, smells. . . beautiful critters, handsome riders, red dust, boiling peanuts, and country western songs all added up to what, for me, was a magical evening. I will be there next year. Ride ‘em Cowboy!

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