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The 66th Annual Franklin Rodeo galloped into town and slid to a stop at the Williamson County Ag Expo Park, May 14-16, 2015. This Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) ranked rodeo brought in cowboys and cowgirls from all over the United States – some from Tennessee, many others from Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, Georgia and Pennsylvania. These hard working cowboys and cowgirls wrangled into town to do their best to win some prize money and another buckle for their collection.
The PRCA prides itself on animal welfare and maintaining its stock in prime condition. J Bar J, Inc provided the stock for this event. After one of the stock contractors mares finished her 8 second run in the saddle bronc competition, J Bar J, Inc opened a chute and let this mare’s foal join her in the arena. The two warmed the hearts of every one as they pranced and played in front of the crowd.
The Franklin Noon Rotary Club produced an outstanding rodeo for participants and spectators. The Rotary Club regularly invests proceeds from their rodeo in a variety of humanitarian charities. Started in 1948 under the guidance of business owner, Jim Warren, the organization has grown from the original 14 members to over 150. They support such organizations as Boys and Girls Club, 4-H, Bridges, Literacy Programs, Special Olympics, and more.
This PRCA rodeo featured Bareback Bronc, Barrel Racing, Saddle Bronc, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Tie-Down Roping, Bull Riding, and the crowd favorite: Mutton Bustin’. The rodeo kicked off with a spectacular Grand Entry featuring rodeo announcer, Roger Mooney on his brightly colored Paint, ‘Flash.’
The rodeo clown and barrel man, Hippie Englekes, was quick on his feet – and not just to protect the cowboys from the bulls. His high energy keeps him running all over the arena, picking on the pick-up men, the announcer, and rodeo contestants. He was quick to hop up the fence to “high five” kids and talk to the crowd. Hippie has been a rodeo clown for 14 years, deciding it was a good transition after ten years of being a bull rider. “This is the best career in the world! I get to entertain people and make them happy. I get to make a living at what use to send me to the Principal’s office,” Hippie says with a big smile and a laugh. Hippie has had his share of close calls. The worse was when he got knocked down hard by a bull and dislocated seven vertebrae. He still finished his rodeo work at the rodeo that weekend before he went to see a chiropractor.
Additional entertainment at the event included Amanda Payne and the Longhorns, with the One Arm Bandit & Company. Amanda is the daughter of the original One Arm Bandit, John Payne. Like her dad, Amanda works with longhorns, drives them around the arena, and for the grand finale she drives them on top of a specially designed trailer.
No rodeo would be complete without the glitz and glam of a Rodeo Queen. Miss Rodeo Tennessee, Morgan Blackhurst was front and center to perform various duties during the event. Morgan grew up in Nashville, TN and although her parents compete in rodeo, she wasn’t involved with rodeo until college. With a degree in Agriculture Communication and Journalism from Utah State University, she plans to pursue a law degree at Belmont University.
When asked, “How did you attain the success of being crowned Miss Rodeo Tennessee?” she replied, “Growing up in the horse industry, to succeed at anything you have to work hard. You have to take opportunities, whether a goal in school, work or rodeo, take that opportunity and not be afraid. Work hard towards your goals and do your best. The worse that can happen is someone can say ‘no’.” Read more about Franklin Rodeo at: franklinrodeo.com
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