Fans of the rodeo can saddle up this weekend to watch more than 400 cowboys and cowgirls compete in the sixth annual Rodeo Nights.
Cross Creek Rodeo will put on the exhibition, which starts Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Columbia County Fairgrounds and continue Saturday. Proceeds will benefit the Southeastern Firefighters' Burn Foundation, which helps families of patients who are being treated at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center.
"There's definitely something for the whole family," said Dawn Gantt, the foundation's development director. "It's going to be fun for everybody."
Contestants from across the country and Canada will compete in categories including bull riding, bareback and saddle bronc riding, team roping, steer wrestling, tie-down and breakaway roping, and barrel racing.
A favorite event for cowboys and the crowd is "Money the Hard Way," where contestants 18 and older try to grab a ribbon off a bull named Ram. The winner walks away with $100 and a T-shirt.
"The bull is mean," Gantt said. "He will put you up in the air if he needs to."
Children will have the chance to chase after a calf and try to remove a ribbon from its tail. Other activities for children include pony rides, inflatable activities and face painting.
Gates to the rodeo will open at 5:30 p.m. Country singer Bartlee Norton will perform at 7 p.m. both nights and during intermission.
A guitar signed by the singers from award-winning country group Lady Antebellum also will be raffled off at the rodeo.
About 3,000 spectators attended last year's rodeo each night, said Gantt, who hopes for an even larger turnout this year.
"With the economy the way it is right now, it's nice to be able to have something fun to do like that on the weekend here locally in town," she said.
Vendors selling food and authentic rodeo attire will be at the event.
Tickets cost $14 for adults, $8 for children and free for children 6 and younger. Advance tickets can be purchased at all Georgia Bank and Trust locations; Boots, Bridles and Britches; and online at www.crosscreekrodeo.com.
For information, call (706) 650-2876, or visit www.burnshurtwehelp.org.
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