Sheriff’s rodeo is coming to town, Event takes place April 5 and 6, special needs rodeo is scheduled for April 4

Published 6:00 pm Friday, March 29, 2019

LaFAYETTE — It’s that time of year again where Chambers County gets to saddle up and head to the Chambers County Agricultural Arena for the annual Chambers County Sheriff’s Rodeo, which will take place April 5 and 6.

Heading into its 23rd year, Sheriff Sid Lockhart said there will be riders competing from all over the southeast, including the Carolinas, Tennessee and Florida.

“They will all tell you that this is one of the best arenas in the region,” Lockhart said.

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The county contracts with BarW Rodeo to put on the rodeo and the riders are involved with the National Cowboy Pro Rodeo Association. The Chambers County event will be an official event for the association, and the riders compete for points during their season.

The gates open both on Friday and Saturday at 5 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults, $7 for ages 4 to 12 and children under the age of 3 are free.

Chambers County Sheriff’s Office Major T.J. Wood said the money raised from the rodeo goes back into the sheriff’s department to buy equipment that isn’t covered in the department’s operating budget. He said things like K9 equipment, funds for specialty units like the dive team and the hearse vehicle the department uses for its drug program are all funded in part by the rodeo.

The money also goes toward fuel for the sheriff’s department’s helicopter, or toward upgrading new vehicles with radio equipment, Lockhart said. 

The program started in 1997, according to Lockhart, the year after he was elected. The rodeo was originally at the Double C Restaurant and Arena on Highway 50 in LaFayette, headed toward Camp Hill. It ran there for about 8 years, Lockhart said, but the property was sold and the rodeo moved to its current location and has been there ever since.

Lockhart said the sheriff’s office started out renting all of the equipment for the event, but each year, the department was able to raise more money and purchase items to cut down on costs. He said a little help from people like Valley Mayor Leonard Riley, who donated bleachers and lights, has helped the department prepare the venue appropriately for the event.

Now, the extra money goes to an event that is close to Lockhart’s chest.

On April 4, the arena will play host to a special needs rodeo starting at 9 a.m. Lockhart said there will be anywhere from 300 to 900 children at the arena from Randolph, Tallapoosa, Lee, Chambers and Russel Counties.

“It really does land close to my heart,” Lockhart said. “It’s hard to explain how I feel about it. I wish every sheriff’s office had a special needs rodeo.”

He said several churches and organizations come together to provide games and activities for the students. Local mascots and cheerleaders from schools will also be in attendance. The sheriff’s office feeds the students lunch and there will also be a mini-rodeo.

Lockhart invited everybody to both events and said it will be a clean, fun environment for everybody.

“It just family-friendly, clean entertainment, and it is a good opportunity for the public and deputies to interact without anything negative,” he said.