On Friday and Saturday, thousands of people attended the Efland Ruritan Club Rodeo to see bull riding and barrel racing.
The event was originally scheduled for Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 but was rescheduled to Oct. 7 and 8. due to Hurricane Ian.
The gates to enter the event opened at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, and an hour later, the line was trailing out to the parking lot.
Anthony Cecil, the 2012-2013 Ruritan Club president and rodeo director, said about 3,000 people turned out to the rodeo – the largest crowd the event has ever had.
This was the 27th annual rodeo, and the club had about 40 sponsors this year, according to Cecil.
He also said the rodeo was the Ruritan Club’s main event of the year, and he was happy people could enjoy it again.
“We probably had more people here tonight than we’ve ever had at a rodeo before,” Tim Sukow, the vice president of the Efland Ruritan Club, said. “We had to close the gates today because we were overbooked.”
Sukow said he thought people were excited about finally getting back to the rodeo after it was suspended for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there were some guests that were experiencing the rodeo scene for the first time.
Vendors including the Boy Scouts of America set up booths and served food to attendees. The competitive events included bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, breakaway roping, team roping, barrel racing and bull riding.
MK Asante brought his two kids to the rodeo from their home in Maryland.
“I like to expose myself and expose my children to new experiences,” he said. “I love the vibe.”
Montana Bass, a 17-year-old breakaway roper, said this was her first year in this circuit and that she was really hoping to succeed in her event. She said that she enjoys roping and that she has trained in the event with her horse, Piper, for her whole life.
Travis Summers said he has been working at rodeos since 2015. Summers is usually in charge of grabbing the bull when a rider falls off, allowing riders to get to safety. Most riders were thrown off their bulls in under eight seconds.
“It gets sketchy,” he said. “Some are good, some are bad. You have certain bulls that are gonna buck and that are gonna do their job and get out and then you have ones that are hanging around and try to run them over.”
Harold Miller, a 65-year-old bareback cowboy, was able to stay atop his horse for the longest out of the competitors.
Katelyn Rambo, a barrel racer from Virginia, said she has been competing since she was five years old.
“I hope to make around all three barrels and not hit one and have a clean, safe run,” she said.
While she did have a safe run, Rambo did not win the competition.
Before the events officially began, “Ragged Old Flag,” by Johnny Cash was played over the loudspeakers, and many attendees wore shirts or hats decorated with American flags or other tributes to America.
The funds raised from the rodeo go toward scholarships and families in need in the Efland community, according to the Ruritan Club’s website.
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