Changes are key to rodeo’s future

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JACKSONVILLE, Texas – The volunteers that organize this community’s annual rodeo are making all things possible for rodeo fans.

“We’ve had some people who have asked us to do a few different things, so we’re doing that this year,” said Byron Underwood, chairman of the Tops in Texas Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Thursday, May 19-Saturday, May 21, at Lons Morris College Arena.

PeteCarrsClassicLogo“Right beside the arena, we’re going to have a beer garden and a big screen that will play the rodeo for the people out there, so people can go over there and enjoy their beer and still see the rodeo. But we want to keep it a family atmosphere at the rodeo arena, so we’re going to keep them separate. Admission into the beer garden is with a rodeo ticket, which gets you into the rodeo, then you can go where you want.”

It’s just one of the changes that will be featured during the 54th edition of Jacksonville’s rodeo.

“People have wanted us to have beer for years,” Underwood said. “You can still go to the rodeo, but if you’re not into that, you will never know they have beer out there.

“We’re also going to have a couple concerts coming for the rodeo, so that’s going to be nice.”

That is just part of the overall entertainment value ticket-buyers get at the Tops of Texas Rodeo, which also will feature comedian and rodeo clown Troy Lerwill.

He is one of the most celebrated acts in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. He’s been the barrelman at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo three times, has twice been named the Coors Man in the Can, and he’s been named the PRCA Act of the Year six times. His motorcycle act involves Lerwill’s alter-ego, “The Wild Child,” who jumps a Bloomer trailer and a Ram pickup in a showcase of comedy mixed with athleticism.

The rodeo is produced by Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo, the largest stock contracting firm in the PRCA that brings stock from its ranch near Athens, Texas. Over the last three years, no other stock contractor has had more animals selected to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo than the Carr firm.

“I think what makes our rodeo special is the fact that we’re professional and we use a professional like Pete,” Underwood said. “We have professional cowboys, the professional acts and make it a professional event, like having “The Wild Child” and the different things that come with a PRCA rodeo.

“There aren’t a lot of rodeos that have been going for 54 years.”

It continues to be relevant, to be a fan favorite in the community of more than 14,500 people. A big part of that, Underwood said, is the relationship the rodeo has with Pete Carr, owner of the livestock production company.

“He’s a great businessman, and he has an excellent crew,” he said. “He has the kind of people that run the show, and he’s been wonderful to us. He’s been a great asset to our rodeo.

“His crew knows what they are doing, and we trust him with our rodeo.”

That trust is a big reason the Tops of Texas Rodeo is a big hit for fans and contestants every year.


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