Get set for Heritage Week starting Saturday, Sept. 22, leading up to the 49th annual Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo featuring 568 contestants battling for a total purse of approximately $120,000.
The four-day rodeo starts Thursday morning with steer roping slack at Lone Star Arena.
This year’s rodeo will feature well-known rodeo clown and barrelman John Harrison. He is a son of legendary rodeo clown Freckles Brown, but has also made a big name for himself. He has earned the PRCA’s Comedy Act of the Year three times.
The rodeo field has the same number of entries as last year, according to James Andrae, board president of the Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo.
“We’ll definitely have the best of the best there, trying to make their way to Las Vegas,” Andrae said. “We’re looking forward to putting on this 49th annual Cowboy Capital of the World Pro Rodeo. I think it’s bigger and better every year.”
Friday, Sept. 28, will be the rodeo’s annual American Patriot Night. One local military veteran, selected by the rodeo board, will receive a check.
Sunday at the rodeo will be Scholarship Night, with a total $11,000 in scholarship money to be divided between multiple local high school students.
There are 14 contestants in the Miss Cowboy Capital Pro Rodeo Queen Contest — the same number as least year, according to Carly Elford, one of the organizers with the Rodeo Queen Committte.
There are two contestants in the Miss Division, five in the Teen Division and seven in the Princess Division.
Jocee Neal and Jett Petkovick are the two competing in the Miss Division, which is for ages 12 and under.
Those competing in the Teen Division (ages 13-17) are Brelyn Carrillo, Jacee Kay Halliday, Grace Hawkins, Rebekah Kay McQueen and Hannah Mae Reusch.
The Princess Division (ages 17-24) contestants are Alexa Aviles, Hadley Dorris, Emmry Edwards, KcKinnzey Hidrogo, Dallee Mae Robison, Casen Sears and Peyton Stein.
They will compete in the categories of appearance, personality and horsemanship. The public part of their competition will be Sept. 22-23, at the Cowboy Church of Erath County.
The 2018 queen will be crowned during the rodeo performance on the night of Saturday, Sept. 29.
Last year’s queen was Samantha Cayton, who went on to win the Miss Texas Rodeo title, and will compete for the Miss Rodeo America crown in December during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Last year’s winners also include Cheyenne Carrell in the Teen Division and Kye Tomlinson in the Princess Division.
“We’re just excited about having this many contestants again this year,” Elford said. “This is such a great opportunity for them.”
The winners not only will earn a trophy buckle and crown, but also scholarship money, including up to $2,500 in the Miss Division.
Something new this year, kicking off the rodeo’s Heritage Week this Saturday, Sept. 22, at the City Park, will be the Cowboy Capital Barbecue Cookoff. Organizer Shelby Blackwell said the barbecue — a fundraiser for the rodeo — is sanctioned by the Lone Star Barbecue Society.
“We’re expecting anywhere from 30 to 50 contestants,” Blackwell said. “With Texas being such a big barbecue state, we would like for it to be very successful. There are going to be at least five local teams that will enter. We’ll have barbecue from all over the state.”
So far there are 128 judges signed up, but more are needed, Blackwell said. The judges include a few celebrities, including Hall of Fame Cowboy Clint Coy, along with former bull rider and bareback rider Chad Kline, Stephenville Police Chief Jason King, and a representative from the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth.
Blackwell said the barbecue competition is open to the public to observe, and any leftovers after judging will be sold by the plate, with a choice of meat and beans.
There will also be a mutton bustin' competition for kids at the park that day, with registration set for 5 p.m. (helmets and chest protectors are provided).
Tickets for the rodeo are available at Capital Hatters, Chick Elms Grand Entry, First Financial Bank, The Hay and Feed Ranch, Saddle Rags, TexasBank, Twisted J and Stephenville Chamber of Commerce.
Prices for adults are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. For children age 6-12, tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Children age 5 and under are admitted free.