Experience a rodeo at least once

Published 9:35 am Tuesday, February 24, 2009

They’re often left in the dust by the media, receiving little coverage of their 100-mile one-way trips, and grueling weekends just trying to earn a buck in the game they love.

But that doesn’t matter to this group of athletes that compete not in pads and jerseys, but jeans, boots and chaps.

The Shelby County Cattlemen’s Association Rodeo will come to Columbiana this weekend for the 22nd year. Before March 2007, the rodeo to me was a distant childhood memory in Montgomery, a Garth Brooks song and a plot line for a movie.

However, once you get past the smell of the calves when you enter the Shelby County Exhibition Center for the first time, you begin to enjoy it for the community-family, grassroots sport that it is.

This weekend will mark my sixth rodeo-style event since coming to the Reporter, and I’ve covered numerous team roping, breakaway roping and bull riding competitions with follow-up phone calls or e-mails. Before joining the paper staff, I never would have imagined that rodeo was as active as a sport in Shelby County as it is, but truth be told, there’s some darn good cowboys and cowgirls here, ranging from the young to the middle-aged.

My rodeo interest came when spending time with a friend in college, whose dad liked to watch professional bull riding on the weekends. I couldn’t get into it, but the sport intrigued me.

A hand-me-down CD in high school put Garth in my music collection, and a late night, impulse purchase at Walmart put “8 Seconds” in my movie collection a few years back.

After the past two years, rodeos will remain an interest for the stories that are the lives of the cowboys and the old-day intrigue of a weekend go-round.

If you’ve never attended the rodeo, check it out this weekend in Columbiana. Gates open at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for children 6-12 and free for children under 6. Wranglers and boots not required.

Outside the Lines is a weekly opinion column.