Sheriff’s Rodeo returns for a 28th year

Published 10:40 am Wednesday, April 3, 2024

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The Chambers County sheriff’s rodeo is coming back to LaFayette this week. The 28th annual rodeo will be off Highway 77 for two nights, Friday and Saturday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

This year, the sheriff’s office is teaming up with Frontier Classic Rodeo to bring more events, including mutton bustin’ and some water buffalos. Riders will come from all over to compete in the events. There will also be activities for the kids, including face painting, games and mutton busting. 

Tickets can be found on the event’s website at Adult tickets are $15, while kids (4 to 12) are $10, not including a $2 to $3 website processing fee.

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“We’re gonna have bull riding, roping, saddle bronc, bulldoging, and we got new this year is the mutton bustin. Mutton Bustin is where the little kids get to ride a sheep like a bull. And we’re trying to get a group together to do the steer dressing,” Nelson said smiling. 

Steer dressing is when a small steer is brought out and the first team to put a pair of shorts on the animal wins. Nelson hopes to debut the event this weekend. The prize will be $300 to the team that outfits the bovine most efficiently. 

Before the two-night festivities, there is a special needs rodeo. Kids in special education classes around the area will stop by during Friday’s school day for a smaller rodeo just for them. Games, some of the rodeo events, and a clown will entertain the kids. The sheriff’s office will feed them lunch before they get back on the buses. 

The main event will also include concessions, manned by the department’s reserve force. All the proceeds from the food and drinks will go to the Sheriff’s Office Reserve Program. 

The original rodeo was started by the former sheriff, Sid Lockhart. The duties for organizing now fall to his successor, Jeff Nelson. While setting up on Tuesday, members of his staff including deputies were out putting up signs and stocking refreshments in preparation for the weekend. 

The county owns the land where the rodeo and other events are held. However, Lockhart has raised money over the years for the stands, gates and lights to make it a bona fide rodeo.

The event began as a way to raise funds for the sheriff’s office, separate from county funding. Often, it has been used for equipment costs. This year, Nelson hopes to equip all his deputies with body armor that can stop high-powered rifles. 

“We’re a rural county so when these guys go out, you have to worry about somebody using a deer rifle or something like that,” Nelson said. “With the current body armor, they won’t stop it. Our SWAT teams are the only ones that have the proper body armor to stop high-powered rifles I want to equip every deputy with it.” 

He also hopes to buy more thermal imaging scopes, an upgraded drone and some storage for the office’s vehicles.