Franklin Rodeo kicks off 69th year with quiet opening of arena for behind the scenes look

Franklin Rodeo kicks off 69th year with quiet opening of arena for behind the scenes look

PHOTO: One young cowboy points out the roping station during the pre-event for the Franklin Rodeo, which runs May 17-19 / Brooke Wanser


On the night before the Franklin Rodeo kicked off, people trickled into the Williamson County Agricultural Exposition Center.

Rodeogoers prepared for the first night of competition Thursday with food trucks, line dancing, and a behind the scenes look at livestock and rodeo competitors.

Most visitors came with young children in tow, as a few vendors sat at their booths, mingling and greeting each other.

It’s Kevin Sanders’ first rodeo. Well, his first Franklin rodeo.

Sanders is attending in his official capacity as the Jack Daniel’s “Barrel Man,” a role which includes reverse engineering whiskey barrels to create souvenir items like tables and mounted racks.

Sanders shows off his wares on Thursday, May 16, 2018/Brooke Wanser.

But mostly, he crafts back together the famous barrels, notable pieces of art in many southern circles.

Sanders lives on a farm in Lynchburg, where the Jack Daniel’s distillery is, and has worked for the company for 22 years.

Another vendor, Glen House of Creek Shop, said he has been coming to the rodeo for several years.

House is from Beaver Creek, Kentucky/Brooke Wanser.

His wife sells stained glass pieces, while he sells leather goods, like saddles, harnesses, and other pieces he handcrafts.

Down the stairs and into the arena, children petted two heeler dogs who guide the livestock during the rodeo.

Through the doors and back to the pens where livestock are kept, children marveled at the cows and horses.

In one corner, jeans and cowboy hat clad volunteers demonstrated how to rope livestock on hay bale animals for children, while adults wandered over to speak with some of the cowboys riding in the rodeo.

Dylan Sandvick is only 19, yet he has been riding bareback for three years, coming from Kaycee, Wyoming, to compete in the eight-second event.

He grew up attending several of the National Finals Rodeos in Las Vegas with his father, 12-time NFR bareback rider “Wild Man” Larry Sandvick.

When asked how he liked Franklin, a stark contrast from his town of under 300 people, Sandvick shrugged.

“It’s really humid,” he said.

Sandvick shows a fan a video of himself riding a bareback competition in Oklahoma/Brooke Wanser.
The entrance to the Williamson County AgExpo Center was decked out in advance of the rodeo/Brooke Wanser.
Children pet the heelers inside the arena/Brooke Wanser.
The empty arena will be filled with roping cowboys and steers come Thursday night/Brooke Wanser.
Visitors check out the horses waiting competition/Brooke Wanser.

About The Author

Brooke Wanser is the associate editor for the Franklin Home Page, and can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @BWanser_writes or @FranklinHomepg.

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