The 46th annual PRCA Cowboy Capital of the World Pro Rodeo got off to an exciting start Friday night at Lone Star Arena.

The three-day event kicked off with the evening's theme "American Hero Night" honoring those who serve, followed by a concert by Zach Edwards.

In attendance and in uniform were some of "those who serve," namely Tarleton Army ROTC Cadets, Allen Jordan, Adam Pope and Brandon Proctor, all juniors.

Patty Carroll of Halletsville was also in the stands with four-year-old granddaughter Reese. They were there to watch Rusty, Reese's grandpa roping as part of Rodeo Heritage week.

Asked if she came to watch Grandpa, Reese said, "Yes, but I really like horses, too." That sounds right since her dad, Russ, and mom, Robin Carroll own a horse farm in Proctor.

Tammy Culpepper, wife of Neil who is on the Rodeo Committee and has been for the better part of 15 years, was in the stands with their kids, Grace who is five-and-one-half and A.J. who is four and crazy about mutton bustin, like everyone in the family.

"We love mutton bustin," Terry said with a proud grin as Grace and A.J. - who were all decked out in their finest Western wear - nodded enthusiastically. She added that they have been coming to the Cowboy Capital Rodeo for as long as Neil has been on the committee.

Arthur Lee, who now drives all over the country for an all-around cowboy known as Brother Lyle who was riding bulls this week, was there too and said, "I used to ride bulls and I played defensive back for the University of Oklahoma in college."

Cori Porter and her son Wyatt, who attends Stephenville High School and is now learning to team rope, were there to watch some acquaintances who were participating, with names you might know: Marty Yates and Chris Weldon.

"We've been coming every year for about 10 years now," Cori said."Being from here, we never miss it; we love this rodeo."

The event wraps up Sunday with a 2 p.m. matinee and the crowing of the Cowboy Capital of the World Rodeo Royalty.