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Fourth annual event to be at Wayne Johnson Arena May 30 and 31

FILE PHOTO — The opening ceremonies in the 2013 Adams County Sheriff’s Office Rodeo featured a patriotic number with horses, flags and fire.
FILE PHOTO — The opening ceremonies in the 2013 Adams County Sheriff’s Office Rodeo featured a patriotic number with horses, flags and fire.

Bull fighters are coming to Adams County, and they’ll be bringing their monkey friend.

But these bullfighters won’t be matadors wearing a dress jacket and waving a red cape in front of a bull.

The bullfighters coming to Adams County are going to look a lot more like cowboy clowns.

The fourth annual Adams County Sheriff’s Office Rodeo will be 7 p.m. May 30 and 31 at the Wayne Johnson Covered Arena, and this year’s events will include the addition of rodeo bullfighters.

“These are bullfighters dressed like clowns,” Rodeo Producer Robbie Thomas said.

“They will run in front of these bulls and make passes, and the more daring they can be, the more points they can get.”

Unlike other bullfighters, however, rodeo bullfighters face animals at their peak performance.

“We don’t bleed our bulls down like other bullfighters,” Thomas said. “They are in great shape and they are bred for this.”

The bulls are brought in right before the rodeo, and are kept in a trailer where they can’t see people until it is time for them to take to the ring, Thomas said.

For a minute-and-a-half, each man in the competition will face a bull.

“These men will be out there playing with these bulls,” Thomas said. “I have had them run and jump over the bulls before, jump over their heads, and we have also packed some clowns out (of the arena) who got hooked.”

Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said for those who have never seen the bullfighters, it will be worth the trip to the arena.

“These bullfighters are very, very athletic folks,” he said.

In addition to the bullfighters, famed rodeo barrel clown Rudy Burns — the world champion known as “the man in the can” — will return.

“Rudy Burns is from Smithdale, and he is by far the South’s funniest rodeo clown,” Thomas said.

But clowns won’t be the only ones grabbing attention in the center ring, and the smallest cowboy in the ring won’t even be human.

This year, Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey will make an appearance.

“Whiplash is a Capuchin monkey, and he rides a border collie,” Thomas said. “They will put some sheep out in the arena, and he will herd the sheep like a cowboy herding cattle.”

Miss Rodeo America 2014 Paige Nicholson will also make an appearance during the rodeo. Nicholson is from Mississippi.

The rodeo competitions will include bull riding, bareback bronco riding, barrel racing, tie-down roping and steer wrestling.

Family events will include pony rides for children, a mechanical bull, a petting zoo, a trapeze and a giant hamster ball.

Mayfield said the rodeo is meant to be a family-oriented event that has a safe, yet fun, atmosphere for children.

“We wanted to give back to the community,” he said. “I’m most looking forward to just seeing the children out there having a good time, the families out together enjoying themselves as a family. Anybody of any age will enjoy this, it’s just good, wholesome entertainment.”

The proceeds from the rodeo are used for the Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy Fund, which is administered by a committee formed by the deputies.

In the past, the funds have been used for things like sending flowers for bereaved members of the sheriff’s department, but they have also been used for purchasing equipment like cameras, recording equipment and upgrading shotguns for deputies at no cost to the taxpayers, Mayfield said.

“This rodeo really helps out buying things the deputies might want or need that we might not necessarily get or want to ask for from the county,” he said.

Last year’s rodeo had between 2,500 and 3,000 people turn out over the course of the weekend, Mayfield said.

“Every year we get bigger, and this year looks like it is going to be as good as last year if not better,” he said.

The funds from the concession stand will be directed to Adams County Search and Rescue.

The ACSO Rodeo is sanctioned by the International Professional Rodeo Association and the Southeastern Professional Rodeo Association, and Thomas said the only two regional rodeos he knows of that can boast of being bigger are the Dixie National Rodeo and the Angola Prison Rodeo.

“This is a small-town rodeo with all the big-town rodeo bells and whistles,” he said. “That is what sets us apart.”

Tickets are on sale now, and are $10 for adults and $7 for children in advance, or will be $12 for adults and $8 for children at the gate.

For more information, contact ACSO Public Information Officer Courtney Taylor at 601-442-2752.