Amy Brocato Pearson
Jacksonville Daily Progress
The bulls were in the chutes and the fans were in the stands as the Tops in Texas 2013 PRCA rodeo kicked off Wednesday evening in Jacksonville.
Despite a torrential downpour earlier in the day, the excitement level was high as the Sweethearts of the Jacksonville Rider's Club circled the arena, signaling the start of the four day event.
"We're gonna have a good time and it's gonna get a little muddy," announcer Racer Botkin cried as "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" blared from stadium speakers.
Katie Palmer, 6, cheered and waved her pink cowboy hat in the air as she threw her head back, tossed long brown curls and gave her best rebel yell, to the chagrin of mother, Tina.
"Oh well," laughed the Alto resident. "If she can't cut loose here, where can she?"
Before the festivities began, Jacksonville High School graduating senior Suzie McCuistion received a scholarship from the Jacksonville Rider's Club for her "hard work and dedication" during her high school tenure. Suzie will graduate as the salutatorian of her class on May 31.
Rodeo Association President Byron Underwood rode into the ring, along with Randy Berry, president of the Jacksonville Rider's Club, as the horses and their riders energized the crowd.
The annual Rodeo Parade through downtown had been cancelled because of weather earlier Wednesday, but skies were clearing the the lights were bright at the Jacksonville Rodeo Arena. After a video history of professional rodeo, Rodeo Princess Peyton Moore of Bullard sang the National Anthem and the contests began.
As the Tops in Texas is a PRCA rodeo, professional riders were earning points toward their national rankings.
The first bull rider out of the shoot only lasted for a little more than two seconds before taking a fall right into a mud puddle.
"We come every year," said Lisa Nawlins of Jacksonville. "It's a nice family activity and my kids really like it."
Her son, Joshua, 14, agreed. "But I like the corn dogs the best," he said.
The Rodeo continues through Saturday.
• 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, 903-586-3285.