‘HOLD ON FOR DEAR LIFE:’ Wayne Rabb Memorial Rodeo continues tonight in Adams County

Published 3:04 pm Saturday, April 29, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Toddlers gripped the backs of sheep tightly as the animals took off at top speed into an arena surrounded by hundreds of watching patrons during the Friday night opening of the Wayne Rabb Memorial Rodeo.

Even as some fell off, no one was hurt. The children hopped right back up from the soft dirt and smiled and waved to the crowd.

“Do you mean to tell me that’s legal?” asked rodeo clown Tim “Wild Thing” Lepard.

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It is in a rodeo competition called “mutton bustin’,” where there is only one rule.

“Hold on for dear life!” Dusty Thomas, TNT Rodeo Company announcer, said.

The little children weren’t the only ones holding on to farm animals.

Lepard had his “Team Ghost Riders,” a group of Capuchin monkeys trained to ride on the backs of dogs and herd sheep into a pin.

Perhaps the most dangerous and most highly-anticipated event is the bull-riding, where cowboys try to hold on to a bucking bull to beat an eight-second record.

There is also calf roping, barrel racing and trick riding by the Trixie Chicks, in addition to children’s rides and food vendors.

“Adams County has one of the best rodeos in South Mississippi. Do you know why it’s the best?” Thomas asked. “It’s because they bring in the best in rodeo entertainment.”

The show concludes tonight at the Johnson Arena, located at 200 Foster Mound Road.

Gates open at 6 p.m. Tickets sold at the gate are $15 for anyone 13 and older and $8 for children between ages 8 and 13. Children under 8 attend free.

All event proceeds go into a deputy sheriff’s fund to help the Adams County Sheriff’s Office pay for unbudgeted, needed equipment for deputies, explained Sheriff Travis Patten.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rodeo event did not take place for the last three years, he said, adding, “We have felt the effects of that and it is very much needed.”

There are also bicycle giveaways and a chance to win a $1,000 pot with the purchase of a $2 raffle ticket.

Watch the gallery above for scenes from Friday’s festivities.