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Rodeo for cowboys of all ages

A bull rider holds on tight during one of the first rides Friday night at the second annual Adams County Deputy Sheriff’s Pro Rodeo. The event featured bull riding, bareback horse riding and tie-down roping at the Wayne Johnson Covered Arena. (Rod Guajardo \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Most days, 12-year-old Brandon Butler is just a regular sixth-grade student at Morgantown Elementary.

But Friday night Butler threw on his chaps and his black cowboy hat to play the role of calf roper in front of a large, hometown crowd.

“I just like coming out and doing what I like to do and having fun doing it,” Butler said about his first experience at the Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy Professional Rodeo.

Butler was one of dozens of bull riders, calf ropers and horse riders that took center stage at the rodeo Friday and Saturday night at the Wayne Johnson Covered Arena.

And although Butler did not successfully rope his calf Friday night, he said it was a great experience to perform in front of his friends and family, and he hopes he has a future in the rodeo.

“I just had a bad night tonight,” Butler said. “My loop was too big. But I want to go as high as I can be (in rodeo).”

Several of the contestants in the weekend rodeo were local cowboys, including Natchez-native P.J. King.

King said he loved that Natchez was hosting a top-notch rodeo event.

“(This rodeo) is in the top, and one of the best organized,” he said.

King, 20, splits his time between work, attending Alcorn State University and practicing his calf roping. He said he hopes that practice and experience will take him to the top.

“I want to take this to the pros,” he said.

Although the cowboys took most of the spotlight, there were also activities outside of the ring for the youngest rodeo lovers to enjoy.

ACSO deputy Randy Freeman said he wanted the event to be fun for the whole family, and he thought that goal was met this weekend.

Nine-year-old Jacob Brown, from Roxie, said he liked riding the mechanical bull and thought he was pretty good, but he was excited about catching a glimpse of the real thing in the ring.

“I’m ready to see more bulls,” he said.

His older sister Masey Bradley said she enjoyed taking in the sights of the rodeo.

“I enjoy watching and just having a good time,” she said. “I like everything. I think that’s from me being the country girl I am.”

Natchez Police officer Walter Mackel brought his family out to the rodeo Friday night, and he said it was nice to get his 6-year-old twin boys Jadon and Jordan out of the house.

“It’s great to have somewhere to go,” he said. “And I’m a police officer, so it’s nice to get out with the sheriff’s department and meet our co-workers.”

Jadon and Jordan were having fun chasing each other with their red, light-up swords their parents, Walter and LaTanya, bought them. But Jordan had his eyes on a different activity.

“I want to ride the horses, but my momma won’t let me,” he said.

Freeman said he was glad to meet and greet some of the community he protects at the rodeo.

“It’s nice to get out with the community, so they can see us one-on-one and realize we’re not the bad guys,” Freeman said.

Freeman said his favorite part of the rodeo experience was watching rodeo clown Rudy Burns perform.

Burns, who lives in Smithdale, said it was nice to work an event so close to home.

“It’s a treat to get to see all my friends,” he said. “And I don’t have to drive but 50 miles. It’s really good that the family gets to come watch.”

Burns has been in the business for nearly 40 years, and he said the sheriff’s rodeo is becoming a top event.

“The sheriff’s rodeo just started up last year and made best first-year rodeo,” Burns said. “Hopefully it makes rodeo of the year this year.”