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Giddyap!

It's time once again for cowfolk to descend on Odessa for its annual rodeo and festival, opening at 3 p.m. today.

By BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 6, 2001


South-central Pasco County is in for a whirlwind of entertainment, food and rough-and-tumble excitement today through Sunday as the 12th annual Odessa Rodeo and Festival gets going at the Anclote River Ranch on State Road 54.

"We're expecting upwards of 20,000 people over the course of the three days," said Bill Butler, this year's rodeo chairman. "We've rented some extra bleachers to have room for all the people. Our bleachers just aren't going to be big enough."

Since shortly after the end of last year's rodeo, more than 60 members of the Rotary Club of Seven Springs have been working on this year's rodeo and festival, Butler said. The event has two purposes: providing a good time for the patrons and money for the more than 30 non-profit organizations supported by the Rotary Club. That includes Explorer Troop No. 24, the Shepherd's Cupboard, the Salvation Army Domestic Violence Program, The Angelus, and the Good Samaritan Health Clinic, plus many others.

"In the past 11 years, we've donated close to $300,000 to these groups," Butler said.

The event starts at 3 p.m. today with the opening of the carnival rides, booth exhibits, the rodeo and music, and continues from 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday. (See complete schedule below.)

The big events are the daily rodeos: 7:30 p.m. today, 1 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday. There's seating for 4,500 at each rodeo, "but we have areas as the corners where people can stand if they want to," Butler said.

People who like carnivals and entertainment, but don't care for the rodeo, can enter the grounds for free. Parking for everyone is $5.

"We have the biggest circus tent around with continuous entertainment," Butler said. "Some of the entertainers in the past have gone on to bigger things in Nashville," he said, including Daniel Lee Martin and Crystal Lee.

Among the big names from the rodeo world at the event are Loyd Ketchum, who was named "Wrangler World Champion Bullfighter" by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 1991, and Clint Raulerson, a three-time finalist in the Southeastern Circuit Finals Bullfighter.

For laughs, there will be Rick "The Agin' Cajun" Young as barrel clown, the man who distracts the bucking bulls and broncos after the riders dismount (or are thrown off). Young was once known as The Ragin' Cajun, but changed his name after he had been in the rodeo for more than 30 years.

Reese Thomas will play music for the rodeo events. Thomas has played with Freddy Fender, Jo-el Sonnier and The Drifters, among others, and has released his own gospel album.

The announcer will be Roger Mooney of Ellijay, Ga., who announced the 2000 Calgary Stampede, the 1999 National Steer Roping Finals, and is the voice of the Dodge World's Toughest Rodeo.

A new event this year is the Miss Rodeo Florida for women 18-24 and Miss Teen Rodeo for ages 13-17 contests. Contestants will be judged 50 percent on horsemanship and 50 percent on other skills and traits. Winners receive crowns and cash awards. To enter, call Le Anne McKendree at (352) 521-4012.

At a glance

WHAT: 12th annual Odessa Rodeo and Festival

WHERE: Anclote River Ranch on State Road 54 between Little Road and Gunn Highway

WHEN: 4 p.m. to midnight today; 11 a.m. to midnight. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday

TICKETS: Advance rodeo tickets, $10 for adults; $8 for children ages 10 and younger, available with Visa at http://www.odessarodeo.com and at listed outlets. At the gate, $12 for adults, $10 for children, all open seating. Festival grounds only, free. Parking is $5.

2001 Odessa Rodeo Schedule

Today

3-9 p.m.: WQYK-FM 99.5 DJs Randy and Dave

4-10 p.m.: Pit Boss barbecue

4-11:30 p.m.: Carnival and booth displays

6:15-6:45 p.m.: Kiddie rodeo, arena

7:30-10 p.m.: Rodeo

9:30-midnight: Gordon Brothers Band

* * *

Saturday

11 a.m.-10 p.m.: Pit Boss barbecue

11-11:30 a.m.: Just Country Dancers

11:30 a.m.-noon: Lisa Parks Country Music

Noon-11 p.m.: Carnival and booth displays

Noon-12:30 p.m.: Mikki Taylor, singer

12:15-12:45 p.m.: Kiddie rodeo, arena

12:30-1:15 p.m.: Miss Rodeo Florida and Miss Rodeo Teen contests

1-3:30 p.m.: Rodeo

1-3:30 p.m.: DJ music

3:30-5:30 p.m.: Brandy Lynn Halkett & The Authorities

5:30-6:30 p.m.: John Wayne Wilkinson & The Authorities

6:15-6:45 p.m.: Kiddie rodeo, arena

6:30-7 p.m.: Shan-N pop singer

7-7:30 p.m. Dusty Ward, singer

7:30-10 p.m.: Rodeo

10 p.m.-midnight: Gordon Brothers Band

* * *

Sunday

11 a.m.-noon: Nondenominational church service

11 a.m.-7 p.m.: Pit Boss barbecue

Noon-8 p.m.: Carnival and booth displays

Noon-2 p.m.: DJ music

2-3 p.m.: Shan-N, pop singer

3-4 p.m.: Dusty Ward, singer

3:15-3:45 p.m.: Kiddie rodeo, arena

4-6:30 p.m.: Rodeo

4:30-5:30 p.m.: DJ music

6:30-7:30 p.m.: Gordon Brothers Band

7:30-9:30: DJ music

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