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Burnet County Rodeo organizers are heart and soul of 50-year event

Burnet County Fair and Rodeo Association president Cody Orman (left) and rodeo committee chairman Brent Nichols are working to get ready for the 50th annual Burnet County Rodeo on June 10-11. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

BURNET — Burnet County Rodeo fans are used to seeing red, while and blue to honor veterans and pink for breast cancer awareness. But they also might see gold this year.

The rodeo is celebrating its 50th anniversary on June 10-11 at the Burnet County Fairgrounds, 1301 Houston Clinton Drive.

And to commemorate the occasion, Chet Garner, host of "The Daytripper" TV show on PBS, is expected to attend the June 11 rodeo performance and address the crowd.

Of course, what’s a rodeo without all the fast-paced excitement?

A steer team roping competition gets things warmed up at 7 p.m. June 8. Signups begin at 5:30 p.m. Ropers who graduated from a Burnet County high school, live in the county or pay taxes here are eligible.

The cost to compete is $100 and includes a total of four chances to advance to the next round. However, only one of those will be with a roper’s regular partner; the other three will be with randomly chosen partners. Admission is free.

Slack starts at 8 p.m. June 9, which spectators can also watch for free.

Then, the Burnet County Rodeo cranks up the regular performances June 10-11. Gates open at 6 p.m. with the action starting at 8 p.m. both nights. Rodeo clown Ronald Burton will perform.

Mutton bustin’ for the kids takes center stage at 7 p.m. June 10.

Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for ages 6-10 and free for ages 5 and younger. A dance follows each rodeo with Texas Crossing on June 10 and Kenny Orts and No Chance on June 11. Admission to the dance is included when paying to see the rodeo.

Rodeo committee chairman Brent Nichols said the association purposely tries to keep the cost of attendance low.

“So people can enjoy the entertainment,” he said.

Nichols and Burnet County Fair and Rodeo Association president Cody Orman are following a family tradition that began with their fathers.

Nichols’ dad, Dick Nichols, was a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association member for 14 years as a bull and bareback rider.

Brent Nichols has been a member of the Burnet County Fair and Rodeo Association for almost 15 years, while Orman has been a member since 1986.

Orman joined the association when board members saw him helping behind the scenes. He still brings his own equipment to drag the arena surface.

“‘You might as well get on the board. You’re doing more work than the board members,’” he recalled being told.

Orman couldn’t help but look back on the event and the family tradition it has become for him.

His dad, Macyl Orman, was one of the founding members of the association shortly after the family moved to the area when Cody Orman was 10.

The younger Orman went to his first rodeo at the invitation of friends.

“I thought it was a neat thing,” he said.

As a result, Orman began roping. After graduating from Tarleton State University in 1982, he returned to Burnet to become a full-time farmer and rancher.

Back then, he said, the association “was getting by.” But as the fairgrounds started needing improvements, the association had to find ways to raise revenue.

So board members began selling rodeo sponsorships. Any money left after the needs of the rodeo and grounds are paid for is distributed back to the individuals and organizations in need, Orman said.

In 2009, the board voted to rename the arena the Cody Orman Arena.

“It was unanimous, at a meeting without Cody for one time,” said Nichols, who is the rodeo committee chairman. “He’s a very humble man, really humble in what he does and who he is.”

Orman recalled the night of the dedication as he recently stood at the arena entrance.

“I should’ve known something was up,” he said with a grin. “I saw the top of the gate was covered.”

Right before presenting the Burnet County Rodeo Queen’s Court, Orman noticed his family members were standing nearby. When he was asked to help with the court, he saw that his family followed him.

When they unveiled the new entrance, Orman said he was truly touched.

Both said they can’t imagine not being involved in organizing the rodeo.

“I love to do it; it’s a passion,” Orman said.

He has requested that board members tell him when he is unfit to continue serving on the board.

Their reply?

“We can’t tell you to get off the board,” he recalled with a grin. “You have the equipment we use for the rodeo.”

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