Hittin’ the Dirt

Megan Engle

The lights were low and shoulders were touching as everyone crowded into the Agricultural Exposition Center this weekend.?

Tickets were sold out, and the only available space to see the show was the standing room surrounding the arena. Shoves were coming from the left and right as audience members tried to get a better look at the Lone Star Rodeo Company’s 2003 Outlaw Tour.

To light the arena, a cowgirl rode out on a brown horse into the center of the dirt ring.?In her hands was an illuminated American flag. Following in the tracks of her horse were several other cowboys and cowgirls holding flags in honor of the veterans in the audience.

Soon lights from all different directions flooded the arena. Faces of all ages in the audience could now be seen.?Cowboys, horses, bulls, calves and rams all awaited their turn to enter the ring in front of this sold-out crowd.

Ticket manager Jim Cope said this was the biggest turn out he has seen in five years.

“They do this every year. Saturday nights are usually the show that sells out, but this Sunday’s attendance is amazing,” Cope said. “Tennessee is probably the next closest place you can see a rodeo, and, locally, people love the entertainment.”

Audience members cheered and clapped as cowboys showed off their tricks, like calf roping. An audience favorite was the bull riding event.

Breckinridge county junior Melissa Moorman has sold tickets at the rodeo for three years and has always enjoyed taking a break and catching a glimpse of the cowboys in action.

“The cowboys have to be one of my favorite things about the rodeo — and watching them ride those bulls,” she said. “The atmosphere is so exciting, and it’s something you just don’t get to see everyday.”

One cowboy that kept the audience watching was Max Reynolds from Nebraska.?Reynolds has appeared on the silver screen and traveled all over the world entertaining with his different array of tricks and skills.

Whitehouse, Tenn., alumnus Ben Kirkpatrick said what he found most entertaining was Reynolds himself.

“When I got a chance to watch him, he could do tricks that were unbelievable,” Kirkpatrick said.

Reynolds entertained the audience by doing an assortment of tricks, ranging from slicing a piece of a plastic pole from the top of his assistant’s head to amazing the audience by standing on top of a horse while doing rope tricks.

But Reynolds wasn’t the only form of entertainment.

Everyone, especially the children in the audience, seemed to focus on the main rodeo clown, with his bright lime-green hair and elaborate costume. He was telling jokes, setting off firecrackers and shooting sparks from a gun.?

“The rodeo clown was pretty funny, and he always seemed to be doing all these crazy, stupid things,” said Scottsville senior Seth Brown.

Jokes and tricks weren’t the only entertainment provided by the Outlaw Tour. Competition reigned high and kept the crowd rooting for the cowboys and cowgirls to finish successfully.

Events included timed calf roping, bronco and bull riding and ram riding by child cowboys on the tour. The audience was given a chance to participate by being hand-picked from their seats and then let loose to chase after three calves.

Western alumna Melony Scott of Franklin made the event a family affair.

“My five-year-old … is horse crazy,” she said.

Scott has been to several other rodeos with her family, but the family’s favorite event is the bull riding competition.

As the fan favorite finally hit the ring, audience members were on their feet. Faces cringed as cowboys were left behind by the bull and hit the dirt floor, but cheers were always heard no matter the outcome.

Reach Megan Engle at [email protected]