Having a fun time with the family and helping others will go hand-in-hand next week at the annual Rotary Classic Rodeo.
This will be a qualifying event for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association national finals in Las Vegas, Nev., said Bricklee Miller, manager of the Mississippi Horse Park.
The two-day event over Friday and Saturday will include bareback, girlâ€™s barrel racing, tie down roping, team roping, saddle bronc, bull riding and steer wrestling. Robbie Hodges will also perform a clown act. There will be 330 contestants in the event, the largest number to date.
Scotty Lovelace, the stock contractor for the event, has a horse which won the PRCA's Bareback Horse of the Year.
Friday morning will be "slack," or overflow of contestants who are not in the rodeo performance, Miller said. Children from area schools will be present for the Friday slack events via field trips.
Friday night will be kids' night as children 12 and under get in free Friday night. Gates will open at 6:30 p.m. On Saturday, children 12 and under enter for $5. Children 2 and under enter free. From 5-7 p.m., there will be free petting zoos and pony rides with admission to the rodeo.
The event will start at 7:30 p.m. each night and run about two hours. It will feature a new group of contestants Friday and Saturday nights.
"These will be cowboys and cowgirls from all over the country. It will be a fantastic show," Miller said, extending special thanks to the event's sponsors.
The Dixie National Rodeo will take place at the same time in Jackson "and it creates a great synergy for contestants who drive" from such states as Wyoming and Nebraska "to compete in more than one rodeo," Miller said. "It's great for us because it brings those top-caliber cowboys and cowgirls to our event."
The event is Starkville Rotary Club's only fundraiser.
Rotary "gives every penny back" to Tuition Guarantee Program overseen by Starkville Oktibbeha Achieving Results. The East Mississippi Community College-affiliated program provides opportunities for local students to attend EMCC tuition-free.
Adult tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Ticket outlets are Mitchell Dodge in West Point and the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, the Starkville Daily News, Oktibbeha County Co-op, all in Starkville. For information, call the event information line at 325-0508 or visit http://www.mshorsepark.com.