OKEECHOBEE — Labor Day weekend brings rodeo, festival and parade
Continuing a tradition of 50 years, Okeechobee area residents will enjoy a variety of Labor Day weekend celebrations.
The fun starts Saturday, Sept. 5, at the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center with goat roping from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and a Ranch Rodeo from 6 to 9 p.m. The rodeo, hosted by the Building Relationships Among Teens (BRAT) Club, is co-presented by Waste Management, Walpole Feed and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
A ranch rodeo is a little different from a professional rodeo, since it focuses on the skills of a working cowboy. Teams of cowboys and cowgirls from area ranches compete. Some events, such as bronc riding, are individual events. Others, such as calf branding involved several team members working together. (Don’t worry about the calves — the “branding” is done with paint to mimic the old-fashioned use of a branding iron.)
The celebration will also include pony rides, face painting and a fun zone for the kids.
Refreshments will be available for purchase.
After the rodeo, the Agri-Civic Center arena will be the site for a “dirt dance” from 9 to 11 p.m. The band, Saddle Tramp, will perform.
The rodeo ticket price has been discounted to $5 per person with no parking charges. Kids under 5 are free. The rodeo admission also includes the dance.
Spectator admission entrance to the rodeo is off State Road 710. The State Road 70 entrance will be closed.
On Sunday, the Labor Day weekend fun continues with the annual Labor Day Festival in Flagler Park on State Road 70 in downtown Okeechobee. The festival will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and feature live entertainment, food, arts and crafts booths, booths with information about local clubs and organizations and more.
On Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7, at 10 a.m. the BRAT Club will host the Labor Day Parade. The parade route starts at the intersection of Southwest Fourth Street and U.S. 441, and travels north on U.S. 441 (aka Parrott Avenue) to State Road 70, then west on State Road 70 to the end of the park. This year will mark the 50th anniversary of Okeechobee’s Labor Day Parade.
After the parade, the Labor Day Festival will continue in Flagler Park until 3 p.m.
The B.R.A.T. Club organized the Sept. 5 rodeo after learning just a few weeks ago that the Okeechobee Cattlemen would not hold their traditional Labor Day weekend events.
“B.R.A.T. Club board pulled together and answered the cry of the residents to continue the tradition of a rodeo during Labor Day weekend. We are hoping to gain support and attendance to have a successful event,” said President Teresa Chandler Bishop.
The event will be held in the evening to not interfere with the Main Street Festival and provide a bit cooler atmosphere for attendees, she explained.
“We want to make the event affordable for the entire family to come and enjoy,” said B.R.A.T. Board of Director Matt Buxton.
For information on supporting the event or volunteering, please call Teresa Chandler Bishop at 863-801-4996 or Donny Arnold at 863-634-6464. For information on entering a ranch rodeo team, please call Tony Bishop at 863-990-5194.
The B.R.A.T. Club, Inc. board members are; Sheriff Paul May, Judge Jerry Bryant, Commissioner Bryant Culpepper, Major Noel Stephen, Teresa Chandler Bishop/President Allison Chandler/Vice President, Matt Buxton, Tammi Kelly and Frank DeCarlo.
B.R.A.T. Club mission: “To provide safe, fun-filled activities to the teens in our community.”
The Okeechobee News is published every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.