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Round ‘Em Up for Burnet County Rodeo

The 2017 Burnet County Rodeo is May 12-13 at the Burnet County Fairgrounds, 1301 Houston Clinton Drive in Burnet. Admission is $10 for ages 11 and older and $5 for ages 6-10.

BURNET — The first rodeo I remember going to was in the 1980s when my father dragged me along to experience — what he called — “Texas culture.” I say dragged because it was a Saturday, and I much preferred watching TV at a friend’s house.

But Dad herded me into the old white and yellow GMC pickup truck, and off we went to Georgetown. I recall the heat — it was summer after all — and the dust.

I also distinctly remember the first event was a round of bull riding. Up until the moment they threw open the gate, I was still hoping Dad would realize the mistake he made, and we’d go back home.

But when that first bull jumped out, rocked forward on his front legs, bucked back into a 45-degree angle, and twisted around in some unholy manner in a Herculean effort to throw its rider, I forgot all about getting in the truck and heading home.

I can’t recall much more about that rodeo, like if the first rider hung on for eight seconds or how long we were there, but I still remember that first taste. It was something Dad and I shared, like the first fish I ever caught.

“It’s a fun, family event,” said Brent Nichols of the Burnet County Rodeo Association. “It’s one of those things you can still do together as a family and not have to worry that your kids will see something that they shouldn’t.”

Unlike TV most nights.

Nichols is correct, which is one of the reasons he and the rest of the rodeo board strive so hard to keep the Burnet County Rodeo fun and affordable.

The main performances are Friday-Saturday, May 12-13, at the Burnet County Rodeo Arena, 1301 Houston Clinton Drive. Gates open at 5 p.m. with the events starting at 7 p.m. It’s a full slate from barrel racing to bull riding with bareback, saddle bronc, steer wrestling, team roping, and calf roping in between.

Admission is $10 for ages 11 and older; $5 for ages 6-10; and free for kids 5 and younger. Friday night is also Patriots Night, which means first responders and military members with proper identification get in at half-price.

And, Nichols pointed out, there’s no charge for parking.

“We’re not looking to get rich, we just want to raise enough to keep the lights on at the arena so the 4-H and FFA programs and kids involved in those things can use (the arena and grounds) throughout the year at no cost for their events,” Nichols said. “We’re just helping out the community, especially the youth.”

This rodeo go-round is a month earlier than previous ones. The high school and collegiate finals fell on the weekend the Burnet County Rodeo usually takes place, so board members moved the local event so they could rope in the best athletes.

“That’s one of the things if people who haven’t been to a rodeo before should know about ours is we’re looking for the top hands who compete to earn a living or earn points,” Nichols said. “We get some of the best cowboys and cowgirls at our rodeo.”

The Burnet event is part of the Cowboys Professional Rodeo Association and the United Professional Rodeo Association circuits, so competitors can earn money as well as points toward the two associations’ championships.

Cadillac Rodeo Co. is the stock contractor. As the 2016 CPRA Stock Contractor of the Year, Nichols pointed out that competitors and fans can expect the best stock around.

One of the big things about the Burnet County Rodeo is rodeo clown Leon Coffee will be in the barrel as well as all over the arena. Coffee has toured the country for years and been in some of the biggest rodeos around, including Houston and San Antonio, but since several of the local rodeo boards have a good relationship with the legendary rodeo funny man, Nichols said Coffee comes to Burnet’s event.

“It’s not often you get to see someone like Leon at a local rodeo,” Nichols added.

As part of Patriots Night on Friday, the 1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment is performing.

On Saturday, Nichols reminded people to wear pink as its “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” with part of the proceeds from the night going to support breast cancer research.

After the Friday night rodeo, people can stick around for a concert by Bret Mullins, and Kenny Orts takes the stage on Saturday. The concerts and dance are included in rodeo admission.

For those who can’t wait until Friday to get see some rodeo action, Burnet County Roping Night is Wednesday, May 10, at the arena starting at 6 p.m. Admission is free. And the slack competition is Thursday, May 11, starting at 7 p.m. Again, no admission for slack. Slack is basically an overflow event for competitors because the two performances can only accommodate a certain number of athletes.

“If you’re looking to go to a rodeo for the first time, or you’ve been to a bunch of them, the Burnet County (Rodeo) is a lot of fun and worth coming to see,” Nichols added.

And though I was a reluctant first-time rodeo fan, I’d have to agree. It sure beats spending a night in front of the TV.

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