Rodeo entertainment returns to Rowan County
By David Freeze
For the Salisbury Post
Allen and Sharon Livengood spend nearly every weekend a year on the rodeo circuit.
Joining them on every one of those trips are 13-year-old daughter Bailey, 8-year-old son Clay, and 16-month-old Rena Kate.
“It is what they expect to do, and rodeo is full of excitement. We love to watch the kids compete and the horses we have trained,” Sharon said.
The Livengoods are bringing that excitement to their own arena on Redmond Road near Cleveland on Friday and Saturday.
“We want it to be good family entertainment, and we made it affordable so that everyone can come,” Sharon said.
Rodeo returns to Rowan County after an absence of eight years.
Allen’s relatives had a July 4th rodeo in Woodleaf for years, and that absence has been felt locally. At least 10 families in the western Rowan area rodeo regularly, and the Livengoods plan to highlight local participants.
5L Rodeo Company is producing the event, with all five Livengoods participating, though Rena Kate will be mostly cheering on the rest of the family.
Professional-rodeo announcer Jeff Wolfe will be on hand, along with rodeo-clown Clint Smith of Mooresville.
Circle G Rodeo Company of Harmony will provide the bulls and Ed Doolittle of South Carolina will bring the bucking horses.
Sponsors for the rodeo are Jacob’s Western Store and Peak Performance Chiropractic of Woodleaf, Cleveland Drug Company, Carolina Farm Credit, Warren West Cellular Sales of Cleveland, Los Tres Jinetes Mexican Restaurant and Hodge Farm, both of Mt. Ulla.
The Livengood family spends hours practicing in their own arena each week. Allen has been competing for 25 years.
Some of his accomplishments include Southern Rodeo Association All Around Cowboy in 2007, reaching the International Rodeo Finals twice in Oklahoma City, and numerous calf-roping and All Around awards at the Mid-Atlantic Rodeo.
Sharon has competed in the Southern Rodeo finals 12 of the last 14 years, missing only for the birth of Clay in 2002 and after the death of her horse in 2004.
She has won Mid-Atlantic and Southeast Roping Association Breakaway Championships.
Bailey has won 3 Junior Southern Rodeo Breakaway Championships and competes in goat tying, pole bending and barrel racing.
Clay has already won the Junior Southern Rodeo Pee Wee All Around Champion Cowboy at age 7. He also competes in roping, goat tying and pole bending.
All five Livengoods now travel in style to the rodeos. They bought an RV and pull the horse trailer with it.
The family travels at least 40 weekends a year, often going to two rodeos the same weekend.
“There is never a dull moment. I tell everyone that we have no room to haul anybody else,” Allen said.
Sharon remembered one example of “no dull moments.”
“Right after we got the RV, we went to see a barrel horse that was for sale. We realized that it was farther from the rodeo than we thought, and had to hurry back,” she said. “The RV had a hard time on the mountain roads, and the family arrived just in time for the start of the rodeo. I jumped out with Clay, and passed him into the arena just as they announced his name for mutton busting.”
Sharon is amazed by all the community support the family is receiving while preparing for the big weekend.
“I am shocked by all those coming forward to help. The generosity and the willingness to help from neighbors and friends have just been overwhelming,” she said.
Allen trims the feet of dairy cows for a living, and the family grows hay and long-horn cattle. They live on a 180-acre farm that has remained intact through three generations of their family.
Both Allen and Sharon came from families that supported their rodeo interest very early. Sharon didn’t expect to continue after her dad was killed at a rodeo, especially when her mother sold the truck, trailer and horses.
Sharon stayed away until after she and Allen were married. He gently encouraged her, and one weekend while he was off competing, she saddled a horse and began the long road back.
Sharon rode the horse for the entire day, and regained her passion and joy for the sport. Allen coached her as she gained confidence.
Sharon’s return was stalled by a battle with Ramsey Hunt Syndrome, a condition where she lost her ability to balance and eventually to walk. She credits her church family at Cornerstone Baptist Church and her rodeo family with speeding her return.
Rodeo events will include wild-horse riding, calf roping, breakaway roping, barrel racing, team roping, and bull riding.
Some local residents who will be competing include Amanda Stewart, Darren Martin, Bo and Bethy Stikeleather, Brent and Jana Carleton, Chris Keller, TJ and Garrett Sigmon, Jason Tucker and Bobby Parker Jr.
More than 100 participants are expected. Another feature of the rodeo is Future Champs, an exhibition of exceptional children participating in the adult events.
A wild-cow milking contest and calf scramble are also planned. The rodeo opens at 8 p.m. each night and will conclude at about 10:30 p.m., though there will be a secondary competition following for those who did not qualify for the main events.
The Heart of a Sportsman men’s group from Cornerstone Baptist Church will provide concessions including burgers and ice cream. The West Rowan High School Band will help out with parking.
Pony rides and a mechanical bull will also be on hand.
The family hopes that up to 2,000 people will attend each night. He also points out that every effort will be made to complete the evening’s competition if bad weather hits. If weather does force cancellation of either night, then the makeup will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday.
“This rodeo is about who we are. I would like to see my children continuing the rodeo for years to come,” Sharon said.