Saddle up for the Liberty Hill Pro Rodeo

By KATE LUDLOW

Bailey Schmidt of Liberty Hill rides in the opening ceremony in last year’s rodeo. (Courtesy Photo)

Saddle up for the Liberty Hill Pro Rodeo and Bull Riding coming up on Labor Day weekend.

The Williamson County Cowboy Church is hosting the event, which begins Thursday, August 30. Co-sanctioned by the Cowboy Pro Rodeo Association and the United Pro Rodeo Association, the event  features everything from Mutton Busting to Bull Riding, and a bit of everything in between.

In addition to bull riding, team roping, mutton busting, BBQ cook offs, jewelry and clothing vendors, and a cow drop fundraiser, the event will also feature barrel racing for the first time in its five-year history, says Courtney Adair, one of the event’s organizers.

“These contestants come from all over Texas. There are four or five other rodeos going on Labor Day weekend, and these folks try to hit them all,” she said.

The rodeo life, so storied and rich in its history is alive and well in Texas.

“There are iPhone apps that help you get from one place to the next. You can use your phone, and book yourself into the next rodeo. If you get a flat, there’s a tire guy. You can do almost anything,” says Adair. “They try to hit all the rodeos they can in one weekend. They work Monday through Friday 8-5, and then they get in a truck and go. They’re living in a horse trailer on the weekends.”

Because there are often so many contestants, spectators at a rodeo only see a select few. The rest “run slack,” meaning they compete in the morning or evenings with little to no crowd, for the judges.

“They run slack, drive to the next one, then go on down the road. It’s not uncommon for these guys to hit two rodeos in one night,” said Mrs. Adair. With bull riding taking just eight seconds per round, and roping events not taking too much longer, it often takes contestants longer to saddle up a horse and get it warmed up than it does to compete.

Thursday evening will be the barrel racing. Friday night, the vendors will show up, and visitors will be able to purchase boutique and western wear items, plus crafts and more. Saturday will feature a BBQ cook off with 20 to 30 teams competing. Events will conclude on Sunday.

Though bull riding is always a big draw, it’s getting a bit of competition from the children’s mutton busting event.

“They shear the sheep, and just leave a bit of a collar on the neck. The kids get on, it’s like bull riding,” says Mrs. Adair. On Sunday night, the top ten Mutton Busters will come back and ride intermittently throughout the bull riding.

The cow drop fundraiser is a way for the Williamson County Cowboy Church to raise funds for the expansion and upkeep on their facilities without incurring debt.

A $20 ticket buys a square in the arena, where a cow will “drop.” Think, cow patty. The person who has that square will win up to $10,000, and there are prizes for second and third places as well.

For more information, visit Williamson County Cowboy Church’s website .