June 30, 2005

Local Cowboys Get Chance To Challenge Pros at Scotland County Fair Rodeo

The Scotland County Fair will feature many of the most prominent names in professional rodeo and will also accept local cowboys and cowgirls who want to try their skills as competitors. Residents of Scotland County or those who live within a 25-mile radius of Memphis are eligible to be local entries in the event scheduled for July 20-21.

Entries will be taken by phone from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Monday, July 18th by calling 1-800-639-9002. There is a $60 entry fee and a limited number of entries will be accepted. Extra entrants will be given the opportunity to participate in “slack time” runs following the regular rodeo. Participants can request to run in slack time if they do not wish to compete for rodeo points. For more information contact Tammie Dale at 660-282-3342.

The Scotland County Fair Rodeo will feature cowboys and cowgirls competing in seven International Pro Rodeo Association sanctioned contests including bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, barrel racing, tie down roping, steer wrestling, and the fan-favorite bull riding.

Danger! Excitement! Action! No event at the fair combines more of these elements than bull riding, a contest that has been voted the “most dangerous sporting event in America” by the Sports Writers of America.

This event pits man against beast as a cowboy who may weigh as little as 140 pounds struggles to stay on top of a ton of twisting, bucking bull.

A bull rider’s equipment consists of a braided flat bull rope and a pair of blunt spurs. The rope is pulled up around the animal’s middle, through a loose noose in the rope. The cowboy wraps the rope around his riding hand and secures it with his fist. Only his grip keeps the rope in place. The bull rider attempts to ride the bull ­turning his toes out and holding on with his spurs - no easy chore since the loose hide of a crossbred Brahma bull moves easily.

Even if the cowboy makes a qualified ride he’s not out of danger. Because of the tightly ­drawn rope he may find himself “hung-up.” This happens when a cowboy’s weight pulls against the rope and keeps it from coming loose. Then the bullfighting clown dashes alongside the bull and tries to free the bull rider.

If the cowboy manages a clean dismount, he may still be in danger, especially if he stumbles or falls, since many bulls will charge a man on the ground. As in other riding events in rodeo, two judges score the ride on the rider’s style and the bull’s bucking ability.

The IPRA, headquartered in Oklahoma City, OK, sanctions more than 500 rodeos each year in almost every state in the union.

Every dollar won by contestants at an IPRA sanctioned rodeo translates into a point in the world championship standings. Therefore, the odds of current and former world champions, as well as contenders for the titles, competing at sanctioned rodeos are quite high. This generates more interest for rodeo fans. Money won at rodeos in the contestants’ home region count toward their regional finals as well.

For contestants, the IPRA creates the policies to enforce uniform rules, which insure fairness in areas such as competition, rodeo entry, livestock draw and distribution of prize money. IPRA members are expected to follow strict rules of dress and conduct both in and out of the arena. Insurance through the Association provides members with medical coverage both during and en route to and from sanctioned rodeos.

The Association’s rules influence the spectators’ enjoyment as well. Uniform judging ­methods, livestock quality standards and mandatory arena conditions for fairness and safety contribute to the fans’ appreciation of rodeo. Rules and guidelines to insure safe treatment of rodeo livestock have been established with the help of humane organizations.

Tickets for the Scotland County Fair Rodeo are available at the Memphis Democrat, Gas & More and the area banks. Two-day passes are available in advance for $20 or can be purchased for $25 at the gate. Kids (ages 5-12) two day passes are $10. Single day admission is $15 for adults and $7 for kids.

The IPRA was founded in 1957 when two rodeo promoters formed the Interstate Rodeo Association as a rodeo management organization and a sanctioning body.

In 1957, the Interstate Rodeo Association began counting championship points won at its rodeos and named its first world champions at the end of that year. Included among the rodeos providing championship points that year was the famous rodeo in Cowtown, NJ, the sport’s first nationally televised event.

In 1964, the Interstate Rodeo Association changed its name to the International Rodeo Association, with headquarters in Pauls Valley, OK, where the association was located for 30 years. The “Professional” was officially added to the association’s name in 1983 to distinguish it from other organizations and products using the initials “IRA.” The national offices moved its location to the historic Stockyards area of Oklahoma City, in April of 1993.

To date, the IPRA is the only national, professional rodeo association to sanction cowgirls barrel racing along with men’s rodeo events and allow women to com­pete with men under the same set of rules in the other six standard events.

The IPRA was the first to develop a strong regional system that continues to reward cowboys and cowgirls who choose to limit their travels. Each region holds regional finals rodeos and top contestants from each region compete at the National All-Region Finals.

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