One of Cherokee's most popular annual events kicked off Thursday night. With exceptional weather, the 43rd annual Cherokee Chamber of Commerce PRCA Rodeo started off with great fanfare with over 1,500 in attendance, according to the Cherokee Chamber Commerce.
The theme of the evening was "Family Night," and many area families came to enjoy the activities, food and, of course, the Rodeo, as children under the age of 12 got in free with a paid adult.
This year's Rodeo had something new for the children; next to the petting zoo young fair goers got to ride a mechanical bull. There were train rides and a standing line for the pony rides.
Prior to the beginning of the Rodeo, people flooded the food stands and enjoyed pizza, burgers, brats and funnel cakes. People also took shelter in the souvenir stand, purchasing everything from cowboy hats to jewelry.
At 6:30 p.m. the kids gathered at the main arena and participated in the "Calf Ribbon Race." In many different heats the young contestants chased after and grabbed a ribbon tied onto the tail of a calf.
The opening ceremony started at 7:30 p.m. with announcer Andy Seiler introducing the flag riders, who represented our armed forces, and then introducing the Rodeo Queens and the cowboys, all entering the arena on horseback. Then Seiler delivered an opening prayer for the evening. Bob and Donita Barnes of Barnes/MJM PRCA Rodeo, entered the arena to get the Rodeo under way.
The first event was the bareback riding, one of the wildest and most physically demanding events at the Rodeo. Next came the calf roping, a traditional event of the Rodeo.
The team-roping event had a hard night, with many of the riders not being able to rope the elusive steers. Then came the saddle bronco riding where the riders had to test themselves against one another and the wildest of unbroken horses.
Next was the steer wrestling, where a rider drops from a horse, grabs a steer by the horns and wrestles it to the ground, stopping the clock as quickly as possible. The show then went on with the barrel race and then followed by entertainment of Tim 'Wild Thang' Lepard and The Ghost Riders who gave an awestruck performance with a menagerie of animals including a monkey and horned sheep.
Bull riding closed out the rodeo. Fans witnessed perhaps the easiest event in rodeo to understand. The riders tried to stay on the bull for eight seconds while holding a rope looped around the bull's mid-section. This event was the dramatic end to the first night of the Cherokee Rodeo.
Check the Photo Gallery for photos of the Rodeo