Day of the Cowboy celebrated with ranch rodeo

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee County Cattlemen’s Association (OCCA) will host the 13th annual Day of the Cowboy Ranch Rodeo on July 21 at the OCCA arena, off U.S. 441, across from Raulerson Hospital. Admission is free. The rodeo starts at 7 p.m..

The Day of the Cowboy Ranch Rodeo differs from other rodeos hosted at the OCCA arena throughout the year. The contestants are entered as teams in groups of five, with at least one woman on each team. Each team is sponsored by a local ranch in the area and every team must compete in every event. The events featured in the ranch rodeo are team tying, ranch branding, ranch sorting, steer decorating and ranch bronc-riding.

Rodeo action at the Okeechobee Ranch Rodeo from 2015.

Instead of contestants who are professional athletes and horses that are specialized athletes in roping, barrels, or bucking, the contestants in a ranch rodeo are local cowboys who have jobs other than rodeo, most working on local ranches. And the horses are all-around ranch horses whose normal day at work may include helping the cowboy gathering cows, roping a bull and giving kids a ride around the barnyard.

Ranch rodeos are not always as fast paced as the others, but they allow the audience to pick a team and cheer them on throughout the performance and to watch people they know from the local community compete.

The teams will be competing for bragging rights, prize money, and to qualify for the 2018 Florida Cattlemen’s Association Ranch Rodeo Finals in Kissimmee in October.

OCCA secretary Audra Colgan said the ranching skills the teams will be showcasing are a part of the history and heritage of Okeechobee.

“Okeechobee is a ranching community,” said Mrs. Colgan. “Ranching is a part of who we are, and it makes us unique from the other cities in the country. We should celebrate that.

It isn’t every city that you can see a flat-bed truck and goose-neck trailer loaded with horses almost anytime of day cruising the city streets.”

“The Okeechobee Rodeo is also the oldest open air rodeo east of the Mississippi River.

Even if you don’t live on a large property or you’ve never been on a horse, there’s just something about the cowboy way of life that is inspiring. What better way to support the men and women that work long, hard days to make sure we have a safe and healthy supply of U.S. grown beef than to cheer them on as they do what they love.”

The winning team of the Okeechobee ranch rodeo will have their entry fees and hotels fees paid to go to the 2018 Florida Cattlemen’s Association Ranch Rodeo Finals. At the finals they will compete for prize money, saddles, buckles, and a chance to compete at the 2018 National Ranch Rodeo Finals being held in Amarillo, Texas.

Ranch Rodeo in Okeechobee, Florida

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