The trade show is bustling, full of shoppers of all ages from across the country. The action is underway in both the timed event and the rough stock arenas. Every available inch of parking space for campers is being used. But before it all started, safety came first.
Last Saturday and Sunday, safety seminars were held for the contestants in the rough stock events - bareback steer riding, saddle bronc steer riding and bull riding. Instructors were professional rodeo cowboys, Wyatt Clark in bareback riding, Shaun Stroh in saddle bronc riding and Fred Boetcher in bull riding. These kids ride steers, bareback and with a saddle instead of horses but the idea is the same.
To understand how a rodeo of this size is scored, compare it to a golf tournament. Each of the 1049 contestants will compete at least twice. When all the contestants in an event have competed once, that is a go-round, like the first round of a golf tournament.
Then, they compete a second time. The times or scores from the two go-rounds are totaled and top scores or times compete in the championship round. Just like the finals of a golf tournament where you have to make the cut.
The top 10 in each event compete for the title. After the finals to be held Saturday night, the champions will be crowned. The contestants - men and women - who total the most points in two or more events will be named the all-around champions.
Back in 1979, Lebanon's own Matt Russell did just that at the Finals in Fargo, North Dakota. He was the first cowboy from east of the Mississippi River to do that.
This year, Tennessee's Connor Griffith is entered in seven events - boys goat tying, saddle bronc steer riding, chute dogging, boys breakaway roping, ribbon roping, team roping and bareback steer riding - in an effort to win the coveted all-around title.
In the first performance, Zane White from Scotts Hill, Tennessee, held a tight third place with a time of 2.67 in the boys breakaway roping, just .41 seconds out of the lead. And Blaize Deere was sitting 11th in the Girls breakaway with a 4.88 time. Amanda Coleman from Florida leads with 2.99 seconds.
The trade show is open every day at 10 a.m. They are doing a brisk business. Denny Peilz with French's Shoes and Boots of Nashville said, "This is our first one of these, but yesterday was busy. We are expecting to do well. We had over 150 people stop by on Saturday." They are an outlet for Ariat boots with a top of the line boot priced at $529.
This is a family event with parents, grandparents and younger and older brothers and sisters in attendance. I even ran into an old rodeo buddy of mine. Clint Corey, former World Champion bareback rider is here with his son. Officials report the opening night crowd was a complete sellout and maybe the largest crowd ever.
It is good watching these kids from 6th, 7th and 8th grade really get after it. Performances are at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. today through Saturday. It's a good buy at $15 for adults and $10 for kids.
Partial Teams standings as of Monday:
Girls team Boys Team Boys AA Girls AA
1- Oklahoma 2290 1- Oklahoma 1630 1-Joey Denney-Georgia Amanda Coleman-Florida
2- Florida 1335 2- Texas 970 2-Dean Holyan-New Mexico Kylie Adams- Kansas
3- Texas- 1260 3- North Dakota- 970