For 45 years, spring has meant one thing for members of the University of Georgia Block and Bridle Club — rodeo time.
To raise travel money in 1974, the UGA livestock judging team decided to put on a rodeo, and they used their trucks and washing machines as collateral to fund it. Little did they know that what started as a simple fundraiser would become a time-honored tradition for students and families alike.
The 2019 Great Southland Stampede Rodeo (GSSR) will be held March 28-30 at the UGA Livestock Instructional Arena. Doors open at 6 p.m. each night, with the rodeo starting at 8 p.m. Tickets typically sell fast, so the committee recommends buying tickets online at gssrodeo.com.
The Great Southland Stampede Rodeo is operated entirely by UGA students with the mission of providing a quality rodeo experience according to National Cowboy Professional Rodeo Association guidelines. While it no longer serves its purpose as a fundraiser for livestock judging trips, the event helps them to develop skills to advance both personally and professionally.
CAES students from a variety of majors join together each year to put on the event. From gathering sponsorships to putting together bleachers, UGA Block and Bridle members coordinate every detail of the event.
This year’s chair for the Great Southland Stampede Rodeo, Caroline Hinton, is grateful to be a part of an event that the entire university can be proud of, she said.
“I cannot put into words the pride I feel to be a part of this event,” said Hinton, a senior agricultural communication major. “For more than four decades, UGA students have put on an event that has become a trademark of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. To carry on this tradition is an incredible and humbling experience.”
GSSR is not just for cowboys and cowgirls. The rodeo committee aims to reach beyond the borders of the college to the rest of university and the surrounding community. In fact, the club donates a total of $3,000 to various charities and nonprofits in the Athens area. Take a ride down Milledge Avenue during rodeo week and you’ll find banners advertising the rodeo hanging from the sorority and fraternity houses that line the street. On Thursday, the rodeo’s opening day, UGA students can attend for $13 with a valid UGA ID.
“One of my favorite parts of the rodeo is its outreach,” said Eryn Elliott, GSSR’s student liaison and an agricultural education major. “Not only do we give away thousands of dollars, we work hard to reach beyond South Campus to encourage students be a part of our event. For some students, this rodeo is the closest they get to agriculture.”
For more information about the rodeo, visit gssrodeo.com.