Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

May 3, 2013

2013 Tops in Texas Rodeo gearing up

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — It's been a long and interesting road getting got this point, but this year's Annual Tops In Texas Rodeo – now in its 51st year – is in motion and expected to be a great success, a representative said Thursday.

This year's rodeo runs May 15 through May 18.

“This year was a trying year,” explained Byron Underwood, rodeo association president. “We went through a lot of struggle.”

Underwood, who serves as rodeo president and Precinct 4 Cherokee County Commissioner, was speaking to more than 30 members of the Jacksonville Kiwanis Club at a Thursday lunch meeting . His remarks drew enthusiastic applause.

During his remarks, Underwood referenced the recent recovery of the rodeo grounds by the city from bankrupt Lon Morris College.

The city deeded the rodeo grounds to Lon Morris College with specific considerations in April 2009.

The rodeo's future started to look dim when officials with auctioneer company Ameribid accidentally sold the rodeo grounds and related city property to a high bidder during a January auction. Rather than fix the problem themselves, they passed it on to federal bankruptcy judge to resolve.

The judge ultimately returned the property to the city after Jacksonville city officials Mo Raissi and Joe Angle intervened.

And since then, things started to look up – way up, Underwood said. All the necessary contracts have been signed, and the rodeo is in good shape for this year.

“This is a heritage of Jacksonville that we want to honor and keep going – we NEED to keep it going,” he said. “It's been tight, but everyone has poured out to help. We're getting the billboards out now and we're ready to rodeo.”

Rodeo “Western Week” activities include:

•  May 11 – Cowboy Church Service in Chili's parking lot, 6 p.m., followed by the Chili's Street Dance, with entertainment by Diamond-back Tx. The event is sponsored by Boogie Butt Productions.

• May 14 – Apprecia-tion Luncheon, Norman Center, at noon. Invitation only. Sponsored by the Jacksonville Rodeo Association.

• May 15 – Project Graduation Chuckwagon Luncheon, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Norman Center, $10 per plate. “Dine in” or “to go” orders contact Jessica Chambless, Jes-sicachambless@gmail.com, at 903-312-4939.

• May 15 – Rodeo Parade, 5:30 p.m. Contact Chamber office, 903-586-2218, for more information.

• May 15 – Tops In Texas Rodeo, 7 p.m., at the Rodeo Arena, 736 Mulberry.

• May 16 – Kids Day In Park, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Hazel Tilton Park.

• May 16 – Tops In Texas Rodeo, 7 p.m.; followed by Tough Enough To Wear Pink, Cowboys Church, Rodeo Arena.

• May 17 – Tops in Texas Rodeo, 7 p.m., Rodeo Arena.

• May 18 – Junior Rodeo, 8 a.m., Rodeo Arena. Contact DeLeigh Haley, 903-541-5378.

• May 18 – Tops In Texas rodeo, 7 p.m., Rodeo Arena.

A ticket office will open Monday, through May 17, at the Norman Activity Center, 526 East Commerce, with hours listed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Cost is $10 for general admission, $12 for reserved, and $14 for box (limited availability).

Tickets also are available online at www.topsintexasrodeo.com.

For more information, call 903-586-3285.