2018 Sheriff’s Rodeo likely a record-setter

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Dusty the Rodeo Clown poses with some young fans Saturday night at the 2018 Cullman County Sheriff’s Office Jimmy Arrington Memorial Rodeo. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

VINEMONT – For three straight days, the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Jimmy Arrington Memorial Rodeo filled the Cullman County Agricultural Trade Center in Vinemont to capacity and beyond. Almost every space was filled in the 1,300-seat stands, with additional floor seating packed in, as well.

A special needs exhibition mini rodeo on Thursday drew approximately 1,400 students, family members and teachers.  On Friday and Saturday, pro competition in bareback riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, team roping, breakaway roping, barrel racing and bull riding, which concluded the 2018 season for the Professional Cowboy Association, filled the arena right back up.  The CCSO had to put out the word shortly before Friday’s event via social media that anyone not already at the arena should not come.

On Saturday afternoon, Sheriff Matt Gentry told The Tribune, “Last night was huge.  It was packed out. We filled all the parking here and all the parking over at the vocational school, and it was a packed house last night.  I think we put out on Facebook about 7, 10 till 7–something like that–'Hey, we’re sold out; we’re completely full.' And that was about 30 minutes before the rodeo started.”

On Saturday, the threat of dangerous weather could have thinned the crowd, but the crowd decided otherwise, filling the stands and floor seating once more.  Gentry said this was the first time he remembered a maxed-out crowd all three days, so this year’s rodeo could be the biggest ever.

The rodeo is the primary fundraising event for the CCSO, with the money used to purchase equipment for patrol deputies and computers for the office.  Additionally, it supports community events like Citizens’ Academy and firearm training and allows the office to donate more than $15,000 per year to local schools with special needs educational programs.

A cowboy’s perspective

Cullman County resident Adam Gibbs is a professional rodeo announcer who, with his wife, spends around 85 days each year at rodeos from the Gulf Coast to the Canadian border.  For him, coming home to serve as the arena announcer at the Sheriff’s Rodeo is the highlight of his season.

Gibbs described competition at the Cullman rodeo being “as good as anybody, because tonight we had several world champions out like Trey Moore, those Brunson boys (Louie and Bart Brunson)–they had roped at Rodeo Houston, almost made the NFR (National Finals Rodeo) a couple of times–Tanner Phipps.  A bunch of good guys like that.”

About coming home, Gibbs said, “All year long, I do some rodeos like Grayslake, Illinois that has 12,000 people, but Cullman is the best rodeo of the year for us, because it’s home.  I mean, it really is just a blessing to get to come here to work, so we love it here.

“We ride for My-Way Transportation–that’s our big sponsor, along with Nutrena Feeds–and we pick our feed up at C and M Feed out at Arab, Alabama.  So it’s always good to get to come here to home. I do want to thank God and the Cullman Sheriff’s Office, Matt Gentry and the crew, for allowing us to do that.”

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