Trick Riders Jessica Blair and Madison MacDonald will showcase their skills of horse riding stunts at the 76th Semi-Annual Ralph Morgan Rodeo.
Set for Friday and Saturday at the Ralph Morgan Arena in Lauderdale, the semi-annual competition will also feature guest appearances, food and — of course — contestants from all over the United States competing in seven professional events, including bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, team roping and women's barrel racing.
Blair and MacDonald will entertain during intermission.
Blair, born and raised in East Tennessee, is a first-generation rodeo lover who wasn't aware of the art of trick and fancy riding until her teenage years. While attending the University of Tennessee, Blair became a lead performer in Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede, where she was able to perfect her craft and showmanship skills before training her own trick horse and going out on her own. Blair earned her PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) card after graduating from UT in 2011, and now travels all over the U.S. with her team of grey quarter horses, "Moose and Goose."
At 21, MacDonald has performed across the United States and Canada. For the past three consecutive years, she has performed at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. When she is not on the road, MacDonald also team ropes and professional barrel races. She currently attends Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, where she is enrolled in business administration.
Returning as rodeo announcer will be Mike Mathis, who has been with the local rodeo several years. Mathis was named Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo Announcer for 2010, in addition to his other awards and recognitions.
Crowd favorite Lecile Harris also will be on hand with his arena antics, a combination of magic, slapstick and stand-up comedy. Harris, who has appeared at the Ralph Morgan Rodeo more than 35 years, does more than 150 performances a year (including many of the biggest rodeos in the world). He is a four-time Pro-Rodeo's "Clown of the Year" award recipient.
Making a special appearance will be Paige Nicholson, Miss Rodeo America 2014. The Lawrence native represented her state as Miss Rodeo Mississippi 2013. Nicholson will sign autographs and be available for photographs with rodeo enthusiasts both nights.
Held every April and August, the Ralph Morgan Rodeo has become a tradition in Lauderdale, with shows attracting overflowing crowds. The rodeo is affiliated with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).
In addition to the professional competitions, another crowd favorite is the children's calf scramble. During the event, two or three calves are turned loose in the arena with a ribbon on their tail. Whoever can catch the calf, remove the ribbon and get to the judge first wins a prize. The kid's dance competition also will be presented.
The rodeo also will include concessions — hamburgers, hot dogs, corn dogs, barbecue, fish sandwiches, nachos, snow cones and other favorites. Concession stands will be manned by Lauderdale United Methodist Church and the Lauderdale 4-H Club.
Want to go?
What: 76th Semi-Annual Ralph Morgan Rodeo
When: April 18 and 19, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Ralph Morgan Rodeo Arena, Lauderdale
Tickets: $10, adults; $6, children (12 and under)
Note: Parking is free; rodeo is held rain or shine.