The ground is ready. The banners are hung. The livestock is in town. And there is excitement that only professional rodeo can bring to town.

It’s that time for the annual Cowboy Capital of the World ProRodeo, beginning tonight at the Lone Star Arena, featuring some of the top professional rodeo athletes from right here in Erath County.

“We have everything from an all-around world champion to a state representative entered in our rodeo,” stated Neil Culpepper, Erath County Livestock Association chairman.

You could call it a home field advantage for the Erath County professional cowboys with a large number of Stephenville area professional cowboys matching their skills against other top names in the PRCA tie-down calf-roping event. Those cowboys entered calling Stephenville home include: six-time world champion calf roper Cody Ohl of Hico, NFR qualifier Trent Walls, TSU assistant rodeo coach Raymond Hollabaugh, state representative Sid Miller, TSU NIRA rodeo champion Ryan Watkins, Shawn Felton, Ian Welles and Sterling Smith. PRCA standouts three-time all-around champion Trevor Brazile and 12-time NFR qualifier Blair Burk are making a Stephenville appearance to take a run at our local ropers.

Brazile will also bring his roping skills together with world champion Patrick Smith in team roping. Allen Bach will partner with Chad Masters of Gorman, also in team roping.

Tie-down calf roping isn’t the only event to see top cowboys with the rough stock competition that will prove to be tough as well. Jerry Nelson’s Frontier Rodeo Company has brought some great bucking stock, featuring bulls such as Bad Boys Toy matched against J.W. Harris and Aaron Walker drawing Silent Angel in tonight’s performance.

The classic event of saddle bronc riding will feature the PRCA’s only female saddle bronc rider — Kaila Mussell-Goulet — as well as local rider Johnny Pollock. The women of pro rodeo will bring feature several top names in barrel racing that call Erath County home, including Martha Wright, Margo Peters, Lacy Hollabaugh, Lauren Riley, Judy D’Quinn, Amanda Porter, Cheyenne Wimberly, Aimme Kay, and Fran Surles. WPRA standouts and NFR qualifiers Liz Pinkston and Kay Blandford are also scheduled to run.

Tonight’s opening performance is billed as the "Tough Enough to Wear Pink" Event, sponsored by Wrangler. This event is recognizing all those affected by cancer within Erath County. For those who wear something "pink," to the rodeo, $1 of their ticket will go to the American Cancer Society.

For the young crowd wanting a thrill of the "greatest sport on dirt," there will be Mutton’ Bustin’ each night with registration from 6:30 to 7:30 each evening, limited to the first 25 contestants who are between 3 and 7 years old and under 50 pounds. There is a $10 entry fee for all Mutton Bustin’ contestants.

Gates will open at Lone Star each night at 6:30 with rodeo performances beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.