LADONIA — Goals for the 54th annual rodeo were to provide fun, give back to the community and preserve tradition, said Ladonia Rodeo Association treasurer Triena Duncan.

The rodeo ran Friday and Saturday night and featured a variety of competitions and activities outside the ring. With mutton bustin’, a boot find and calf scramble for children, and calf roping, bareback riding, barrel racing and bull riding for adults, there was no shortage of events to choose from. A dance Saturday night featured performances from country artist Grant Gilbert, whose music echoes “the regional red dirt sound.”

Duncan said the rodeo, which began in 1964, has a family-friendly, community-oriented atmosphere. She said the board was expecting around 2,500 people to attend during the weekend.

For many of the association’s board members, the rodeo is a family affair. Duncan’s grandfather, Sam Bryant, helped found the rodeo, and her parents were both active board members as well as her mother’s family.

“We’re just like a big family, trying to keep it going,” she said. “It’s very meaningful. That’s why I’m out here, I don’t want to see it die. That’s one reason my family is still in it. It’s like everyone that’s involved, they had a family member before us that was here.”

Kim Hodges, another board director, said her father built the concessions stand she was working with Duncan on Friday night.

“We grew up out here,” Hodges said. “We were here when the area was running east and west, and it was all wood. Now it runs north and south. We grew up together, and I can remember being 4 and 5 years old out here. And now I’m 47.”

The rodeo was sponsored by Bud Light beer, Maximum Elevation Off-Road truck accessories and K95.5 radio station. The stock producer was Wing Rodeo Company in Bogata.

Madison Murray, a 14-year-old rider from Cooper, was competing in breakaway roping Friday night. Breakaway roping features a horse and rider team, which attempts to rope a calf while the rope is attached to the saddle horn by a rubber band. When the calf hits the end of the rope, it is pulled tight and the rubber band breaks, allowing the calf to break away.

Murray was competing against 24 other people, but said she felt confident. She has been riding since she was 3 years old, she said, and competing at rodeos for the past three years.

“Breakaway is my favorite, it’s competitive and it pays good,” she said. Winners Friday night could receive an $800 prize, she said.

Duncan said the rodeo association tries to give back to the community. They sponsor scholarships for high school students, she said, and donate to various charities and causes. The focus for this year’s rodeo was breast cancer awareness, and all the volunteers wore pink shirts.

Duncan said everyone involved works hard to pull off the event.

“All of this is volunteer. No one out here makes a dime. And we give back to the community,” she said.

Macon Atkinson is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6963 or macon.atkinson@theparisnews.com.

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