The 95th annual All-Florida Championship Rodeo rides again in Arcadia, filled with bull riding, barrel racing and tie-down roping.
It’s a chance for riders to share their culture. Carl McKettrick, who is now the executive director of the rodeo, started performing when he was a kid. He’s all about getting young people involved.
“You have the ability to bring a different event and different side of livestock to the local community who don’t get to see it on a day in, day out basis; to show a little heritage, to show how agriculture and animal agriculture was started,” McKettrick said. “I did the mutton bustin’, then went into a little bigger animals, the steers, and eventually into the bulls. Now, my son is following suit; he is one of the bullfighters here at the rodeo.”
Carlston Pearce is one of the competitors at the rodeo.
“I will be competing in the junior barrels on Saturday,” Peace said. “My barrel horse, her name is Priscilla. She is a 14-year-old mare horse.”
Weldon Campbell, rodeo director and former bronco rider, says there is a lot of danger to the practice.
“I lost part of one of my little fingers here, so I told everybody, ‘I’d give you a high five, but alls I got is a high four-and a-half,’ so the danger aspect of that… it was time to step away,” Campbell said.
Now, Campbell’s daughters are in the rodeo. While he’s retired from riding, he’s still a fan, especially when his girls get out there.
“We have three girls in the mutton bustin’ this year,” Campbell said. ‘One is 4, the other is 6, and they have a ball getting on the back of the sheep and riding it as long as they can.”
Judge Don Hall, president of the Arcadia Rodeo Association, loves the feeling of the event.
“I’ll tell you what, I love the tradition, I love the lifestyle, I love the people involved,” Hall said. “It just gives you a great feeling. It is a true all-American sport.”
The Arcadia Rodeo runs through Sunday, and you don’t have to ride a horse to have a good time. There are many other activities for everyone and a lot of good food.