The show must go on

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Friday’s torrential rains resulted in that evenings’ cancellation, but a beautiful, sunny,

record-attending Saturday evening rodeo and a special daytime Mother’s Day treat added up to a delightful Gates County Rodeo here this weekend.

As an added bonus was the St. Judes Children’s Hospital Trail Ride held adjacent to the rodeo site.

Things got under way Saturday morning with

the 2nd annual trail ride.

Aaron Brown along with surrounding landowners and International Paper gave riders access to their land.

Connie and Mike Mulholland of Suffolk spearheaded this event.

Their ranch is actively boarding horses, training riders along with weeklong camps. They do 13-14 camps each summer.

St. Judes is the world’s largest pediatric cancer research center, treating about 20,000 patients.

&uot;This is a great way to have fun and make a difference&uot;, says Mike Mulholland.

His wife added, &uot;We would like to thank the many various sponsors for gifts and certificates we gave to riders.&uot;

&uot;Just the $10 certificate from Jeffers Equine each rider got halfway paid for the entrance fee. Some of the rodeo folk even hit the trail with us&uot;, Mr. Mulholland said.

&uot;Last year we raised $8,000,&uot; she said. &uot;As the riders come in they enjoy a free lunch of hot dogs, hamburgers and cheeseburgers, baked beans, chips,

beverages and fellowship which winds up our event.&uot;

Across the pasture, the bulls, Redneck, Dirty Bird, SpongeBob,

Little Crush, Long Black Train, Calico Kid and Hotwire of Carousel Farms of Raleigh

rested and napped. They enjoyed the sunshine and breeze while twitching and stretching their massive muscles, looking like docile pussycats.

The broncos, in the same pen, walked around, leisurely enjoying themselves as they groomed one another.

T.C. McLure of Norfolk, Va. a 10-year veteran bull rider when asked why he rides replied &uot;It’s the rush.&uot;

As the sun soared across the heavens, the rodeo began to come to life with the sound of snapping bullwhips, whirling lassos and hoof beats as rodeo participants warmed up.

As the fans arrived they were greeted with whiffs of good-smelling food while other vendors waited for business.

Sponsored by Central Ford of Ahoskie and sanctioned by the Southern Rodeo Association, the Slo Go Ranch’s

8th Annual Gates County Rodeo began.

Monies made from funnel cake sales went to the House of Hope’s Peruvian mission trip fund to provide much needed juvenile

medical and dental needs.

Gates County Volunteer Fire and Rescue sold peanuts and popcorn, provided by

the Aaron Brown family. The volunteers popped, bagged and sold it.

The money made went to the fire and rescue squad.

Volunteers also sold 50-50 tickets.

The lucky ticket holder got half the total ticket sales.

A fundraiser for Virginia resident Martina Danielle Natoli to receive a double lung transplant involved $5 ticket sales for a chance at a riding yard mower.

Martina drew the winning ticket at Sunday’s rodeo.

Children enjoyed petting the rodeo calves and the pony ride.

The mechanical bull was a hit with the kids and adults alike. If you wanted it, it was there – custom cowboy hats, buckles, belts, jackets, boots, trick ropes, etc.

Good clean fun was exhibited by cowboys, clowns, staff, volunteers and everyone involved, including the fans.

The rodeo got under way around 7 pm with the grand entrance, national anthem and prayer.

The announcer explained judging and determining the winner.

First off were the bareback riders.

One came out and was laid back on that bronc like he was in bed, but he didn’t stay that way long.

Those horses couldn’t seem to make up their minds – up, down, this way, that way.

There was no time for boredom as the clowns performed.

They interacted with the announcer, telling jokes which kept everyone in stitches.

The fans – kids and adults alike – were kept in a constant state of anticipation.

Next came men and women’s calf roping.

After this came the calf struggle with children 10 and under running to the arena to compete for a bike donated by Central Ford.

They waited until a calf with a ribbon tied to its tail was turned loose.

The fun was on.

The object was to get that ribbon to get that bike.

One fan suggested that next year they have this event for adults, donate a truck, and tie a yellow ribbon to a Brahma bull.

Steer wrestling; now that was something else. They jumped off a perfectly good horse to mount a fast-moving bull.

Following intermission, it was bull time. Bulls, earlier noted as docile, drawn for the event had transformed into red-eyed demons. Riders had their hands full with these beasts.

The night ended with music provided by

Dual State Band.

Bierly and Norris, young rodeo clowns, put on a colorful, funny and entertaining dance show.

Shanna, Tamara and Sarah of Gates County showed their expertise line dancing and recreating those crazy 60’s dance moves.

Friday’s rain allowed a perfect Mother’s Day rodeo, complete with trick, bronco, bareback and bull riding. Additional events included men’s individual and team calf roping, women’s break-a-way and barrel racing and steer wrestling.

The fans’ senses were spiked with the speed and sight of the horses, riders, calves and steers, all hauling and kicking up dust.

Merle Hale, 74, of Eure, was honored as the oldest mother present at Sunday’s rodeo.

She was presented a beautiful hanging potted plant.

Traci Morris of Charlotte, the first woman president of the Southeastern Rodeo Association, took first place in

Sunday’s break-a-way event with a time of 3.2 seconds.

The Browns, cowboys, clowns and others responsible for putting on the rodeo expressed their love for this sport and their thanks and deep appreciation for the fans who supported them.