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Buckaroos and bucking broncos

The Odessa Rodeo attracts rambunctious bulls and broncos and a record opening night crowd.


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 9, 2001

[Times photo: Janel Schroeder-Norton]
Tami Fontenot won first place in the girls' barrel racing.
ODESSA -- At a rodeo, a good day means different things to different people.

There were a lot of good days this weekend at the Odessa Rodeo.

For 34-year-old rodeo clown Kevin Ellis, that means walking away, which he did on Saturday.

"Play with the bulls and get out unscathed," said the man with white and red face paint from Monticello, Ga.

For cowboys who came from as far away as Venezuela, a good day is a good bull, said 23-year-old Jackie Patton.

"It's going to have a lot of kick," he said. "It's not going to try to eat you alive if you hit the ground."

He got a good bull Saturday, putting himself in position to win some of the $60,000 in prize money that was available this weekend.

For Bob Emoli, the president of the Seven Springs Rotary Club, which puts on the event, "a good day is when we get a good crowd out here and good weather." The beginning of the weekend rodeo was all of that.

He expected between 15,000 and 20,000 people would come by the end of Sunday to Starkey Ranch to watch rodeo events, attend concerts and play carnival games. Friday night had the largest attendance of an opening night in the rodeo's 12 years, he said.

And the weather was ideal, he said.

A mix of dust and barbecue smells blew in the breeze.

Under Saturday's afternoon sun, people rolled up their sleeves or sought shelter under the big white tent.

The weather made for a good day at the lemonade stand. After a slow Friday night of business, Norma Cruz of Alessi's Real Lemonade looked to the sky on Saturday morning.

"Okay, it's sunny," she said. "We should make a killing."

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