Happy 25th Anniversary!

Published 6:15 pm Friday, April 29, 2022

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GATES – For the past 24 years, folks have made their way to the SloGo Ranch on Paige Riddick Road in Gates County with high expectations of being entertained.

They didn’t leave disappointed and Aaron Brown is hoping that the 25th annual Gates County Championship Rodeo lives up to its prior success.

Brown will once again be joined by a small army of volunteers as they join forces to present the annual rodeo. This year’s event is set for May 6-7 (Friday and Saturday) with gates opening at 5 p.m. followed by the action inside the arena at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s been great ride over the past 24 years,” said Brown. “This is a big year for us; I never, ever imagined when we first started this rodeo that we’d still be here 25 years later. The people have been so supportive of us over the years, that’s why we keep this tradition alive and it all seems to work as we get bigger and bigger every year.

“Reynoldson Baptist Church and the Gates Volunteer Fire Department are still right here with us. It’s a great fundraiser for them,” Brown added.

“It’s three solid hours of pure family fun each night,” he continued. “I love to see the smiles on the faces of our spectators, young and old, as they watch the action inside the arena and visit the vendors outside the arena.”

Brown stressed that the rodeo’s competitors take the event very seriously.

“They compete for cash and prizes and the points they earn that add up at the end of the year where an overall champion is crowned in each event. I guess that’s why I decided to start this 25 years ago, to give our area something different, something exciting that they will look forward to year after year,” he said.

The people that Brown has turned to year after year to help him stage an event of this magnitude keep returning to ensure the rodeo’s success. Included in that group are his children, Alexia, now a first grade teacher at T.S. Cooper Elementary School, and Austin, the Cooperative Extension Agent in Camden County. They also compete in rodeo events.

“I have other family involved in this. They come down every year from Pennsylvania and spend the week helping out,” Brown said.

The event also attracts seasoned professionals that compete on the Southern Rodeo Association and International Pro Rodeo Association circuits. They showcase their finely crafted skills in bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding, calf roping, team roping, cowgirl barrel racing, breakaway roping, and bull riding.

“The competitors come from all over, to include from out west and from Canada,” Brown said. “They seem to love coming here because our crowd really gets into the action. We also try to bring in specialty acts.”

For 2022, The Rawhide and Dusty Show are scheduled to perform. They will be joined by Ohio native Mark Northall as the event announcer and Bryan Hope of Ninety Six, SC who will also keep the crowd thoroughly entertained as the rodeo clown.

Along with the craft and food vendors, the event has also featured pony rides for children and a mechanical bull for those “arm-chair” rodeo enthusiasts.

Tickets, purchased in advance, are $15 for adults and $10 for children (ages 5-12). Children ages 4-and-under are admitted free.

Advance tickets are available locally at Brinkley’s Hardware (788 NC 37 North, Gates), and at McKeel’s Jewelry (919 Memorial Drive, Ahoskie). Other locations selling advance tickets include Starr Motors in Suffolk, VA (2584 Pruden Blvd.), South Point Saddlery in Suffolk, VA (6709 Whaleyville Blvd.), and Page After Page Bookstore in Elizabeth City (111 South Water Street).

Tickets at the gate are $20 for adults and $15 for children.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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