SPRINGDALE -- The Rodeo of the Ozarks is back but this time with a little salsa kick added to the lineup of festivities.
The 77th edition of the rodeo begins today and continues as usual for four days through Saturday. On Sunday, rodeo fans are invited back to Parsons Stadium for an Hispanic Rodeo with gates opening at 2 p.m. and competition beginning at 4. A concert will follow to celebrate the first of its kind Hispanic Rodeo at Parsons Stadium.
Springdale has a sizable Hispanic community and the Sunday activities are an effort to have more people exposed to events at Parsons Stadium.
"We want them to feel welcomed and involved," said Rick Culver, executive director of the Rodeo of the Ozarks.
Founded in 1944, the Rodeo of the Ozarks has become a summertime tradition for fans of all ages in Northwest Arkansas. The theme for tonight's opening-night activities is Front Line Heroes and those involved will receive free tickets and cited for their work in keeping the public safe.
"Those are our hospital employees, police, firefighters, and others," Culver said. "We want to honor them and show appreciation for what they do."
Gates open each night at 6 p.m. for the Rodeo of the Ozarks with the action starting at 6:30 p.m. for the popular Mutton Bustin' event where children try riding sheep into the arena. The Grand Entry, which includes an elite team of Ozarks Rounders on horseback, follows before cowboys and cowgirls from all over the country take center stage beginning at 7:30 p.m. in seven events each night in competition for prize money and prestige. Those events include Bareback Riding, Saddle Bronc Riding, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Tie Down Roping, Barrel Racing and, of course, Bull Riding, the fans' favorite.
The Specialty Act is Tim Lepard and Team Ghost Riders, where trained monkeys ride dogs around the arena. Jeff Lee is the rodeo announcer and Keith Isley is back to keep the entertainment moving as the rodeo clown and barrel man. Cody Emerson and Cade Parks will be in the arena again to help protect fallen cowboys from the bulls.
Rodeo fans are encouraged to wear pink Thursday for Susan G. Komen Cancer Awareness night. A parade beginning at 3 p.m. will be held Saturday through downtown Springdale where onlookers can see a variety of floats, clowns, musicians, and riders on horseback.
Rodeo of the Ozarks
WHEN Gates open at 6 p.m. today-Saturday. Youth events at 6:30 p.m. and a Grand Entry at 7 p.m. will precede the competition that begins at 7:30 p.m. each night
WHERE Parsons Stadium, Springdale
TICKETS rodeooftheozarks.org or call 877-927-6336
COST Various prices starting at $10 (general admission) up to $40 for Buckle Club seating behind the chutes.