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Rodeo draws crowd to Cleveland; more events tonight

By David Freeze
For the Salisbury Post
CLEVELAND — Last year, heavy rains came just after the first rodeo event started. Those rains persisted and the first night’s schedule was washed out.
Sharon and Allen Livengood spent the rest of the weekend catching up.
This year, the weather was picture perfect. A huge crowd turned out Friday for a full slate of rodeo events.
Taylor Parker of Mt. Ulla and Tyler Schenk of Salisbury watched from behind the chute gates.
“This is becoming a tradition and we know everybody,” said Parker, a rising senior at West Rowan High School. “This is the social event of the year.”
Schenk added “We’ll be here both nights.”
Parker is a regular horse rider, and hopes to get to an equestrian scholarship to college. “I can’t afford to be in the rodeo, but I sure love to watch,” she said.
Cowboys and cowgirls competed in bronc riding, calf roping, team roping, barrel racing, bull riding, breakaway roping, steer wrestling and a new event to the area called “buddy pick-up.”
Jessica Blair of Athens, Ga., did a trick-riding exhibition for the crowd. Rodeo Clown Clint Smith of Mooresville kept the crowd entertained between events with some classic and clean rural humor.
Many came to see a rodeo for the first time. Jody Graham of Mint Hill and formerly of New Zealand looked for something online to do over the weekend with her sons. Jody spoke to Sharon Livengood and decided this was the perfect family event to bring 7-year-old Andrew and 6-year-old Ian to.
“We wanted to do something different, something special,” Graham said. “Andrew loved the calf-roping, and Ian likes the buddy pick-up.”
The buddy pick-up proved very popular. A rider on a horse comes galloping by to pick up his teammate.
“This is the same as a game we used to play when growing up,” said Greg Hager of Mt. Ulla. “I was always the pick-up guy since I was bigger and stronger.”
Area teens Wyatt and Abby Martin of Mt. Ulla and West Rowan High School won the team roping event. They were part of a four-person team that recently returned from a competition in Gallup, N.M. Mt. Ulla Elementary fifth-grader Jaxson Tucker teamed with his dad, Justin, to place in the team roping also.
Dr. Andy Gardner, also from Mt. Ulla, said he thinks the rodeo is a perfect fit for western Rowan County.
“This is a rural agricultural community,” he said. “The Salisbury, Mooresville, Statesville area has lots of cowboys and cowgirls. Rodeo is really a family sport, and I like that they always start the evening with prayer.”
Gardner, an accomplished roper, admitted to wishing he was competing.
A group of workout friends from Salisbury came to the rodeo after seeing the signs.
“It is our first one,” said Tommy Wilson. “We will definitely come back. Rodeo is a lot of fun.”
A whole new group of cowboys and cowgirls will compete on Saturday night.
Allen and Sharon Livengood were very happy with the crowd Friday night, and reminded everyone that there is plenty to do at the rodeo when the gates open at 6 p.m.
“We’ve got lots of good food, a bounce house, pony rides and a mechanical bull,” Allen Livengood said. “Come out early because traffic gets really heavy later.”
The Livengood Family Rodeo is at 875 Redmond Road near Cleveland. Start time is 8 p.m. A portion of the proceeds will go to fund the West Rowan Bible Teachers Association.

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