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27th annual Longview PRCA Rodeo to offer family fun

By Meredith Shamburger
April 19, 2017 at 11 p.m.

Heith Allan Demoss, of Heflin La, rides Detour during the Saddle Bronc competition during the Longview Greggton Rotary Association PRCA Rodeo on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at the Longview Rodeo Arena.(Courtney Case/News Journal Photo)

There's a little bit of fun for everyone at the Longview PRCA Rodeo this year, Rodeo Chair Michael Shirley said.

In addition to the usual rodeo events, organizers this year plan to offer family-friendly and children's activities and special events. That includes a small midway with games, a petting zoo, pony rides, a women's rodeo clinic, car and tractor shows, and great food.

"When you think of the big stock shows and rodeos and the fairs and county fairs, it's kind of got a little bit of all that going on," Shirley said. It's a "little bit of everything to do."

The Longview-Greggton Rotary Club will host the 27th annual Longview PRCA Rodeo on April 21-22 at the Longview Rodeo Arena. The rodeo will feature traditional events, such as bull riding, bronco riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling and calf roping.

Organizers also plan to offer mutton bustin' and stick horse racing on both nights of the rodeo for children attending the shows. The evening of April 21 is themed "Tough Enough to Wear Pink," supporting breast cancer awareness.

This year's featured performance is the Bobby Kerr Mustang Act. Kerr has more than 40 years of training and showing, and he is the founder the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame.

General admission tickets to the rodeo cost $12 in advance and $15 at the gate for adults, with reserved seat tickets costing $20 in advance or $25 at the gate. Children's tickets cost $5 for youths between the ages of 3 and 12.

Tickets are available at longviewrodeo.com, with pickup at the Will Call window, or can be purchased at Cavender's, ABC Auto, Jake's Feed and Boot Barn.

Shirley said this year Rotary Club organizers really wanted to focus on families.

"In years' past we've kind of said 'Come out early, our gates open at 6, rodeo at 8, come out for the tailgate party,'" he said. "Well that's not very kid-friendly, so this year we've reached out to vendors that are going to be kid-friendly."

A week before the rodeo, Shirley said they had "a good, solid group" that had signed up to compete in the events.

Proceeds from the rodeo will benefit four Longview nonprofit organizations: Habitat for Humanity, Heartisans Marketplace, the Women's Center of East Texas and the Parenting Resource Center of East Texas.

Shirley said this year's rodeo is a bit different, with the grant recipients being named ahead of time. The goal is to get them involved in the rodeo and the fundraising so they can benefit even more.

"They can use their network of resources to help showcase the fundraiser that they're going to benefit from," Shirley said. "So they're going to have booths set up, Heartisans is going to be selling stuff," etc.

Through the rodeo, the Longview-Greggton Rotary Club raises about $50,000 each year for local nonprofit groups. Shirley said the event is a great way to support community organizations and also get Rotary Club members (and residents) to mix and mingle.

He said it's always a great event — and for him, the Longview Rodeo is also special on a personal level.

"Funny story: it was one of the first dates that me and my wife went on when we first met, so it's a little bit sentimental for me," Shirley said, adding, "We had a great time. That's the thing: You come out, there's just a lot of action going on. It's just got a great vibe."

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