Out at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds, this year the annual Rodeo will support Troy FFA Alumni and Lincoln County Relay For Life when it is held on Friday, Aug. 23 and Saturday, Aug. 24, both starting at 7:30 p.m.
“We have ten different events that cowboys and cowgirls can compete in,” Amber Shafer said. Shafer and her husband Luke started the event back in 2007.
The different events are bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, breakaway roping, team roping and barrel racing.
In between events, there are children’s stick horse races. The children that participate receive a gold dollar and the winners of the races get an extra five dollars.
“We have a sponsor that is matching the gold dollar, so for every kid that goes out there, they make a donation to our cause,” Shafer said.
There will also be a rodeo queen contest, with a pageant, that is open to the public and free, at 9 a.m. on Saturday with the coronation of the rodeo queen happening during an intermission on Saturday night.
During the event, concessions will be available at the fairgrounds.
“We promote this as our ‘Tough Enough to Wear Pink’ event. So we will have Tough Enough to Wear Pink merchandise; we will also have cowboy Chris’ Barbecue and Cowboy Hats,” Shafer said. “We will have pony rides, lots of little vendors. But the primary focus is on the event itself.”
Shafer said that last year, out of the 3,500 attendees, the rodeo raised $28,939.15, the largest draw yet.
“Over the last 12 years, we have made $242,867.36,” Shafer said.
This rodeo was born from the failure of a for-profit rodeo, which had annually passed through Troy, but ended up cutting Troy from their route due to low attendance.
The Shafers realized that the rodeo aspect was something that people would love to continue to have, but thought a non-profit spin would resonate better with the people in the county.
And that is why the Shafers have dedicated the work they do with this rodeo to giving back to the community, and also why they have seen overwhelming community engagement.
“We didn’t want the hometown rodeo to disappear, because we competed in it. So, at the time, my mom was on the committee for the Lincoln County Relay for Life and additionally, I was and have been the Troy FFA alumni treasurer since 2004, and we had basically created a scholarship fund and had a barn warming event,” Shafer said.
After another scholarship fund dissipated they put on the barn warming to create new scholarships.
Amber saw the barn warming as a one-time even that might produce some scholarship money now, but realized that they needed a plan for when that money eventually ran out again.
“It was basically my little brainchild,” Shafer said about the rodeo. “If I can recruit and enlist the FFA kids to help sell tickets, pick up trash and help me at the gate, and if I can have a cause, the people will want to support it and I know I can get butts in those seats,” Shafer said.
All of the money raised goes to the named causes.
In order to put the event on every year, the group starts out at zero and raises the funds through sponsorships, in order to allow all the earnings to be split between the Troy FFA alumni and Relay for Life charities.
“Every year, when you see the amount that is contributed, it’s nothing that I can just ignore and be like well, I am tired of this, so it’s always like I guess we’re doing it next year,” Shafer said.
Tickets in advance are $5 for kids aged 6-12 and $7 for adults. Tickets at the gate are $7 for kids and $10 for adults.
Advance tickets may be purchased at American Family Insurance – Donald Thompson agency, Thornhill Real Estate and Auction, Parkside Mini Mart and all Peoples’ Bank and Trust locations.
Tickets are only good for one night and the rodeo will be held through rain or shine.
“Almost every person we know has been impacted by cancer so come out, show support and wear pink. It is always impressive to look out into the stands and see all the pink. It really stands out,” Shafer said.