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story.lead_photo.caption File photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE Couples sway to the music during the 2016 Western Days Street Dance on Emma Avenue in Springdale. The free Street Dance starts at 8 p.m. June 17 on Emma Avenue in dowtown Springdale, featuring the Boston Mountain Playboys. Rodeo of the Ozarks, a PRCA rodeo, runs June 21-24 at Parsons Stadium in Springdale.

My grand entry to the Rodeo of the Ozarks came exactly 30 years ago this summer. I was an intern reporter at what was then The Springdale News in the blue brick building on Emma Avenue -- which originally housed the Jones Truck Lines terminal and now holds office space for Tyson Foods.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE Rick Treat of Springdale gets ready to dance during the 2016 Street Dance. The Rodeo of the Ozarks offers Western Days events in advance of the rodeo to get locals into the Western spirit.
Photo courtesy Shiloh Museum of Ozark History V.D. McRoberts is dunked in a horse trough for not wearing Western wear downtown during Western Days in 1953. For decades, the city of Springdale celebrated Western Days for two weeks to build the western spirit in advance of the annual Rodeo of the ozarks. Folks working in offices, bank and shops along Emma Avenue would dress western, decorate their departments and perform skits for judging.

The city celebrated Western Days in advance of the rodeo. Folks working in offices, bank and shops along Emma would dress western, decorate their departments and perform skits for judges who visited each office. I was the rodeo queen -- I still have my pipe cleaner crown adorned with gold glitter on my bulletin board in this newspaper office -- and for some reason, I was tied to railroad tracks. To end the skit, "My Hero," reporter Dan O'Mara, was supposed to untie me and carry me off. Great! Until he carried me through the newsroom door straight into the train! We had taped a paper version of a locomotive light on that door.

Mutton Bustin’

Registration is still open for the children’s events held each night before the performance of the Rodeo of the Ozarks, June 21-24.

Mutton Bustin’ — Children climb on the back of sheep in a miniature bucking shoot and take a ride. Just like the cowboys’ bucking events, time and score count, but every contestant wins a trophy. For children from 4 to 6 years old, weighing less than 55 pounds.

Calf Scramble — Calves are let loose to run the arena, and children chase them to remove ribbons from their tails. First three halfpints with ribbons win a cash prize. For children ages 7 to 10.

Information: (877) 927-6336, rodeooftheozarks.org.

Rodeo Parades

Since its inception 73 years ago, the Rodeo of the Ozarks has offered two parades. Note that one of the traditional times to start has changed.

What: Rodeo parades

When: 3 p.m. June 21 and June 24

Where: Emma Avenue, downtown Springdale

Information: (877) 927-6336, rodeooftheozarks.org.

Later, those in the newsroom walked to Shiloh Square for Stagecoach Inn for lunch, with meal tickets the company bought for us. Business leaders and their wives volunteered their time to cook, serve the meals and clean up during the two-week event, Rhonda Hughes reminded me this week. Stagecoach Inn was sponsored by the Springdale Chamber of Commerce for many years. Hughes, the current vice president of operations, began her career with the chamber in 1981.

Another vivid memory of Stagecoach Inn sees the dark purple shirts and jumpers worn by the Duggar children as they waited in line for stagecoach rides at the rodeo grounds. The girls now married and featured in the TLC television show "Counting On" must have been about 7 to 10 at the time.

Don Gibson, chief executive officer of Legacy Bank, remembers the 1960s and 1970s, when those on Emma Avenue not dressed western were sent to "jail," and the only way out was through a dunk tank. Gibson worked many years for First State Bank (now Bank of America) on Emma.

As businesses moved away from Springdale's downtown, attendance at Western Days events dropped. Rather than ride off into the sunset, Western Days has changed.

NEW WEST

The Western Days committee of the Rodeo of the Ozarks offers Western Days events for today's cowboys, starting Saturday.

Over two weekends, those wanting to rope some of the western spirit are treated to a chicken-wing cooking contest featuring local restaurants, a 5K, a battle of the bands, a barbecue cookoff featuring local and competitive teams, a beer garden and a street dance. Western attire is not required, but rides on the stagecoach for kids are a must.

Many people come to the street dance because it's free, said Pat Hutter, a member of the Rodeo of the Ozarks Board of Directors. "It's a way to feel like they are participating in the rodeo."

The committee sponsors events on Emma Avenue, wanting to contribute to the revitalization efforts. "Emma Avenue has a place in our hearts," said Joe Rollins, also a member of the rodeo board. "It all started in the downtown Shiloh Square.

"We want to bring in new life and new faces. We want to see downtown Springdale explode," Rollins continued. "We want to see it succeed. And Western Days is something we want to see grow."

"We've grown much larger," Gibson said of Springdale. In the days he recalled, Springdale's population was only about 15,000, he noted. "We've grown to become a much more urban area. In the early days of the Rodeo of the Ozarks, not much was happening. Today, you've got the LPGA, events at the AMP and on Dickson Street. The [Western Days committee] had to broaden their appeal."

EVENTS

Several events are planned for Western Days. For information about any events or rodeo tickets, call the Rodeo of the Ozarks office at (877) 927-6336 or visit rodeooftheozarks.org.

Wing Fest

What: 14 restaurants compete in several categories to be judged by the people as having the best wings.

When: 5:3o p.m. Saturday

Where: Rodeo grounds, 1423 E. Emma Ave., Springdale.

Who: Restaurants are Zaxby's, Outback Steakhouse, Red Robin, Beef 'O' Brady's, JJ's Grill, Twin Peaks, Foghorn's, Grub's Bar and Grille, Eureka Pizza, Colton's of New Orleans, Buffalo Wild Wings, Houlihan's and Big Whiskey's American Restaurant & Bar.

Cost: $10 for all-you-can-eat wings

Also: Live music by Eye for a Lie

Sponsors: Cumulus Broadcasting, 98.3 The Keg and 92.1 The Ticket

Beer garden

Who: Core Brewing Co. and Black Apple Crossing

When: 2 to 5 p.m. June 17

Where: Shiloh Square, Emma Avenue, downtown Springdale

Sponsor: Rodeo of the Ozarks

Battle of the Bands

When: 2 to 5 p.m. June 17

Where: Shiloh Square

Other: Registration still open

Sponsor: Rodeo of the Ozarks

Stagecoach rides

When: 5 to 7:30 p.m. June 17

Where: Emma Avenue

Cost: Free

Sponsor: Rodeo of the Ozarks

Barbecue cookoff

Who: Competitive traveling teams, local corporate teams, local high school teams

What: Brisket, pork shoulder, chicken

When: Meals served from 5 to 7 p.m. June 17; judging begins at 4 p.m.

Where: Shiloh Square, Springdale

Cost: $10 buys a plate with two side dishes and all-you-can-eat barbecue

Other: Registration still open

Sponsor: Rodeo of the Ozarks

Street dance

Who: Boston Mountain Playboys

When: 8 p.m. June 17

Where: Emma Avenue

Cost: Free

Sponsor: Rodeo of the Ozarks

NAN Our Town on 06/08/2017

Print Headline: Go West!

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