Rodeo action returns to Lauderdale this weekend

Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star file photo

The Ralph Morgan Rodeo returns to Lauderdale Friday and Saturday nights.

Local rodeo fans return to the “Greatest Show on Dirt” at the 87th semi-annual Ralph Morgan Rodeo, which runs Friday night and Saturday night at the Ralph Morgan Arena in Lauderdale.

Rodeo contestants from all over the United States will compete in seven professional events, including bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, team roping and barrel racing.

“As always, there will be plenty of rodeo action, children’s activities, food and fun for the entire family,” said Linda Clayton, marketing director for the rodeo. “Something different we are doing this time – there will be bull riding at the beginning and the end of the rodeo. The bulls and horses are stars too, some have even gone to the National Finals Rodeo, and they are raised right here in Lauderdale at the farm.

“That says a lot of the quality and caliber of the people that are putting on this rodeo – the name is just renown as a class act.”

More than 2,000 people are expected to attend the two-night event come rain or shine. Friday night will begin with the National Anthem and a flyover with World War II-era planes. Mississippi’s Taylor McNair who holds the title of Miss Rodeo America 2019 will be at the rodeo both nights.

“We are expecting a big crowd because it rained in April, so people are wanting to get their rodeo fix on if they weren’t able to come then,” Clayton said.

Returning as announcer will be Mike Mathis from Lubbock, Texas, who has been with the local rodeo for several years. Mathis was named Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo Announcer for 2010, in addition to many other awards and recognitions.

Crowd favorite Lecile Harris will be on hand with his arena antics, which are a combination of magic, slapstick and stand-up comedy. Harris, who has appeared at the Ralph Morgan Rodeo for more than 35 years, does more than 150 performances a year. He is a four-time Pro-Rodeo’s “Clown of the Year” award recipient.

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 has to remove the ribbon and get to the judge first wins a prize. The kid’s dance competition also will be presented.

The rodeo will also include concessions – hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage dogs, barbecue sandwiches, nachos, snow cones, cotton candy and other favorites. Concession stands will be manned by Gateway Church and the Lauderdale 4-H Club.

What makes the Ralph Morgan Rodeo so unique? Because each night is different according to Clayton.

“It is different because the cowboys and cowgirls are different each night.” Clayton said. “You don’t know if you might have one that’s high up in the world standings that will go to the NFR at the end of the year.

“Also, people like to come here because it’s a big area and pretty with all those big pecan trees out in the parking area, plus it’s clean and safe. It’s just a great family outing in a relaxed fun safe environment at a great price.”

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.

The rodeo begins at 7:30 each night. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children. Kids 2 and under get in free.

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