It's almost time for the 8th Annual Whip Crackin' Rodeo at the James E. Ward Ag Center in Lebanon.
In the past seven years, the event, which was the brainchild of former city mayor Philip Craighead, and wife, Darlene, has raised over $300,000 for local charities.
Craighead founded the event during his first term after a friend, steer wrestler Troy Orr, introduced him to the Lone Star Rodeo company. Craighead said it was during the recession, when a lot of charities weren't getting the donations they needed to make ends meet.
"We thought we might raise $20,000," Craighead explained.
The Whip Crackin' Rodeo, on average, has raised double that amount every year.
"The money we raise fills voids for so many different people. We donate the proceeds to a couple dozen different charities," he said. These organizations have included Books from Birth, Boy Scouts of America, Brooks House, Wilson County CASA, Cedar Seniors, Empower Me Day Camp, Habitat for Humanity, Joseph's Storehouse, New Leash on Life, Pickett Chapel Restoration, Southern STARRS, Sherry's Run, Wilson County Black History Committee, Vietnam Veterans and more.
Attendance is over 3,000 per night for the rodeo, which Craighead called "good, family entertainment."
Prior to the calf-roping and bull-riding action, there are contests for kids. Little ones can take part in a "gold rush" and also a Best Dressed Cowboy & Cowgirl competition.
"If you've brought your kids or grandkids here before, then you know what I mean," said Craighead.
The 2017 event is planned for Friday, April 21 and Saturday, April 22, with gates opening at 6 p.m.
On Friday morning, they will once again welcome hundreds of special needs students from all over Wilson County to a Special Needs Day at the Rodeo.
"One of my favorite parts of the rodeo is the Special Needs Day," said Darlene. "These kids always say, 'It was the best time.' I would not want to let them down."
"Just because I'm not in office doesn't mean I don't love our city and want to give back," the former mayor added.
Of course, the Whip Crackin' fun wouldn't be possible without generous sponsors: (Platinum) Permobil, Price's Collision Centers, Wilson Bank & Trust; (Gold) Bates Ford, Bay's Southern Bread, Capitol Theatre, Craighead Home Sales, Inc., Goodall Homes, Johnson Controls, Lochinvar, LoJac Materials, Manheim Nashville, MTEMC, Novamet, Rose Tire, John Greer-State Farm, THW Insurance Services, Tickets Nashville, Visionary Design Group, The Wilson Post; (Chute Gate Sponsors) Austermiller Roofing, Centurion Stone, City of Lebanon Gas Dept., Civil Site Design Group, Crockett Surveying, Express Auto-Harris Scrap Metal, Fakes & Hooker, Lose & Associates, Pinnacle Financial Partners, Shenandoah Mills, Signs Now, Tennova Health Care, Vanderbilt Children's After Hours Clinic, WANT WCOR Radio, Water Management Services; and (Friends of the Rodeo) Boy Scouts of America, Hamilton Station Apartments, Gross Builders, Hartmann Plantation, Gary McNabb, Lebanon Wilson Chamber of Commerce, Two Fat Men Catering and Wilson County 911.
Tickets go on sale April 10th at Wilson Bank & Trust, Rose Tire, Lebanon Wilson Chamber of Commerce, Boot Barn, Bates Ford and John Greer State Farm. Pre-sale tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children. Online tickets are available now. Prices go up at the gate on the nights of the event.
For more information or to become a sponsor or vendor, visit WhipCrackinRodeo.com.