Who: Keaton, Walker, marketing and sponsorship director for the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter
What: Georgia National Rodeo – Thursday-Saturday
Q: Who attends the Georgia National Rodeo?
A: We have a wide range of visitors and guests who come to watch. It is a family fun event. We have a lot of family members who come together and bring their friends with them. Anyone age 2 and older will really enjoy it.
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Q: What are some tips for a first-time attendee?
A: Wear your cowboy boots and jeans and have a good time. The performers really want the audience to get involved.
Q: Is it indoors or out?
A: It is inside Reeves arena, and it is fully enclosed. Attendees will be walking on concrete and asphalt and performers will be performing on a dirt floor.
Q: What kind of horses can people expect to see?
A: They will see anything and everything, but mostly quarter horses. Those are the ones most of the riders will be riding. As far as breeds, there are endless amounts of breeds out there.
Q: What does the rodeo include?
A: It includes saddle bronc riding, which is kinda like bull riding, but instead, it has a horse and saddle, and the rider holds onto one large rope. The horses are not technically wild horses, but they are not tame, riding horses, either. The person who stays on the horse the longest is the winner.
Then there is bare back riding. It is the exact same thing as saddle bronc riding, but the horses do not have a saddle
There is also tie-down roping, which is where there is one cowboy who ropes a calf. He dismounts from the horse, runs to the calf, lays it on its side and ties three of the four legs together — two front and one back. The one with the fastest time wins.
We also have team roping which involves two cowboys, a header and a heeler. The header ropes the calf around the neck, and the heeler ropes the calf’s back two legs. The team that does it the quickest is that night’s winner.
There’s also bull riding. This involves a cowboy riding a full-grown 1,500 to 2,000 pound bull. The cowboy has to last eight seconds on the bull to get a score and be considered for the night’s winnings.
Steer wrestling involves two people coming out together, one on each side of the steer. One person keeps the steer going straight, and the other dismounts the horse on top of the steer and wrestles it to the ground. The person who gets the calf down to the ground the fastest wins.
And finally, we have barrel racing where three barrels are set up in a triangle in the middle of arena. An individual rides a horse around all three barrels and returns as quickly as possible back to starting point. The person with the fastest time wins.
Q: Are women involved the rodeo?
A: There are lots of women performers, especially in barrel racing. Women can ride in any of the events, but most of the time, you will see them in barrel racing.
Q: Will there be clowns?
A: We do have rodeo clowns to distract the animals and to add comedy to the event.
Q: Has the rodeo changed over the time? If so, what kind of changes, updates, trends have taken place?
A: This year, we are adding a lot of different amenities as far as entertainment-wise. The rodeo itself has changed quite a bit, too. They are now able to do playback videos with large LED screens for the audience to see; also, the sound system plays a lot better quality music. The look of the riders and the performers have changed quite a bit as well. Their clothing has evolved over the years into a more trendy appearance. Also, the speed of each performer has quickened over the years. The performers have gotten a lot faster, the horses have gotten faster and the bulls have gotten harder to ride.
Q: What are the most popular events?
A: People really enjoy our bull riding — it’s our number one event that guests like to watch, and then of course people also like barrel racing.
Q: What is most popular with children?
A: They love the clowns, and they love getting to see all the animals.
Q: Will there be any special events?
A: We will be having a concert on Friday night, Feb. 24. There is no additional cost; it is included with ticket. Smith and Wesley, a duo originally from north Georgia, will be performing. They played at the Georgia National Fair in the fall and opened for Old Dominion.
Q: What are the prizes? Do the winners go on to compete nationally?
A: At Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association sanctioned events, winners accumulate points. They build up points and those points help get them to the national finals.
Q: Do any of the winners of the nationals come back and ride at the Georgia National Rodeo?
A: We actually have a guy coming back and riding again who is a world champion bull rider. His sister will also be our trick rider. We have also had some national barrel horse champions come back and compete here at the Georgia National Rodeo, but we have not received the full list of riders yet.
Q: Will there be food vendors?
A: Concession stands will be open selling anything from hog dogs and nachos to candy and popcorn. Also, souvenirs will be available for purchase as well. We will also have some clothing vendors set up on site.
Tickets can be purchased at: www.georgianationalrodeo.com/rodeo/
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Kimberly Cassel Pritchett.