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Saddle up: Cowboy hats back on at UGA
By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia

The only rodeo on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit run completely by students will be back on the University of Georgia Athens campus April 17-19.

In 2003, UGA Block and Bridle Club was asked to move their Great Southland Stampede Rodeo away from Stegeman Coliseum on the campus. The dust they kicked up damaged the sound system. They moved it to a facility in Farmington, Ga. The rodeo won’t be at the coliseum this year, but it will be at the Livestock Teaching Arena on South Milledge Avenue in Athens.

“We’re looking forward to having better access to students and being closer to the university, because that’s where we started, and that’s where we need to be,” said Kate Ewalt, a club member who helped organize the rodeo. “We used to pack the rodeo out every night at Stegeman. I think a lot of people are encouraged that we’re back on campus.”

“To experience the best rodeo action allowed by law, come out and see the Great Southland Stampede Rodeo,” said Dawn Buis, rodeo committee publicity chair.

Events start Thursday, April 17 at 10 a.m. with the children’s rodeo. “It’s one of the greatest things to watch,” Ewalt said. “We get to start the rodeo with the kid’s exhibition. The kids are just thrilled. They have the best time.”

Club members will go to an Athens-area elementary school and give the students a taste of cowboy life on April 18.

The rodeo kicks off each night at 8 p.m. Rockin’ Robbie Hodges will work alongside PRCA announcer Roger Mooney to entertain the crowd every night. Saturday night's rodeo is the grand showcase and tends to be the most packed, she said.

Friday will be Tough Enough to Wear Pink night. For every person who wears a pink shirt, the club will donate $1 to breast cancer research. The club will donate 10 percent of all the rodeo’s proceeds to the Athens Boys and Girls Club.

“It’s one of the greatest things I’ve done in college,” Ewalt said of the rodeo. “Someday I’ll look back, and it will hit me that I was 20-something years old and putting on a $60,000 rodeo with a bunch of my friends. We have a big time. We love our rodeo.”

Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for UGA students and $12 for children at the gate. Advanced tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children. For more information, call 706-542-9374 or e-mail gssrodeo@gmail.com. The rodeo is also sponsored by Barrett Dodge of Athens.

(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.)

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