PHOTO: Bareback riding is one of seven competition categories each of the three nights of the Franklin Rodeo. / File photo
By JOHN McBRYDE
The Franklin Rodeo gets underway Thursday night for a three-night run of entertainment and exciting bull and horse action at the Williamson County Ag Expo Park.
Action gets started at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Attendees can expect to see a full range of competition in this event sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), featuring world champion and top-ranked competitors. Categories are bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie down roping, barrel racing and bull riding.
The Franklin Rodeo, one of the longest-running charity events in Middle Tennessee and one of the largest rodeos east of the Mississippi River, is the Franklin Noon Rotary Club’s largest fundraiser of the year. The annual event has helped to generate over $3 million in proceeds toward charities since it was first held in 1949.
Bill Fitzgerald, who has been executive director of the Rodeo for the past 10 years, said he still gets excited when the three big nights finally get here.
“It’s a lot of work but it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s just an amazing feeling.”
The Rodeo will have two special beneficiary nights. Thursday is “Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night” benefitting Williamson Medical Breast Health Center, one of only a few accredited Breast Health Centers in the country.
It will also benefit One Generation Away, which distributes healthy food to families throughout Middle Tennessee that currently do not have access to food sources due to economic and physical barriers.
Of course, the Rodeo couldn’t happen without the loyalty of volunteers. It takes nearly 300 volunteers each of the three nights to make the event run smoothly, and they’re asked to do just about everything but riding a bull.
“We have a lot of volunteers that just love it, and they come back year after year,” Fitzgerald said. “From parking to food prep to ushers to ticket takers, volunteers are needed for a wide variety of things.”
Advance tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for kids ages 12 and under and are available online at www.FranklinRodeo.com. At the gate, tickets are $2 more per ticket.