Rodeo organizers call event a ‘success’

Published 8:23 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A rodeo cowboy loses his hat, but manages to hang on to his ride, at Friday's rodeo.|Justin Schuver
Organizers of the Third Annual Port City Rodeo, which was held this past weekend, said the event was well attended and helped raise much needed funds for a variety of community projects.
Ronnie Burke, the coordinator for the Decatur County Family Connection, said volunteers are still tabulating receipts, but it appears as if the rodeo raised more than $15,000 for Family Connection. He said the 2010 rodeo raised approximately $13,000.
“Everything went smoothly,” he said. “There were no problems and we got a tremendous amount of help from our volunteers. It was a good family event and all of the proceeds go toward programs to help our community.”
Family Connection is a collaborative organization that works to address challenges facing children and families in the county. Some of its programs include a “backpack program” that provides non-perishable meals for some schoolchildren; a youth advisory council for high school students; and a “teen maze” where young people can learn the consequences of poor life choices.
The annual rodeo is Family Connection’s biggest fund raiser.
Burke praised the assistance of employees with Decatur County, the City of Bainbridge, and the Bainbridge Convention & Visitors Bureau, who helped rodeo organizers shift their event to a new location this year. The original hosting site was unable to host the event this year, and organizers were able to quickly shift the rodeo to the Commodore Decatur Industrial Park off Dothan Road.
“The employees were just wonderful,” he said. “Anytime we had a different request, they would have somebody out right away to help us with our problem. We asked for a forklift to be there to help us unload one morning, and they were 15 minutes early. I can’t say enough how much we appreciate their support.”
Burke said participants in the rodeo came from states throughout the Southeast, and that T Bar T, the professional rodeo company hired to produce the rodeo, did an excellent job.
“We had a lot of visitors tell us that the rodeo seemed a little more professional and well run this year,” he said. “We’re very happy with our partnership with T Bar T.”
Debbie McIntyre, a member of the Family Connection board of directors, said she also heard lots of positive comments from rodeo goers.
“There were a few people who told me this was the first time they’d visited a rodeo and they weren’t sure what to expect,” she said. “Nearly everyone said they had a good time. The announcer and rodeo clown did a really good job of making it fun, and the cowboys were very impressive.
“This rodeo could not be as successful as it was, without the support of our community. We appreciate it.”
Burke said that Family Connection volunteers were able to use rodeo proceeds to buy $3,000 worth of food for the backpack program, as early as Monday.
“This money will help a lot of people in our community,” he said.
Southwest Georgia Farm Credit, whose employees provided numerous volunteers, was the event’s major sponsor. Other sponsors included Agrium, the Bainbridge CV&B, Dean Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep, Georgia Power, Port City Timber, Total Petroleum, Dollar Farm Products, Stones, Carolina Carport, Action GM, and DaniMer. Chute gate sponsors were Walmart, Southern Ag Carriers, Peak’s, the City of Bainbridge, Live 101.9 FM and the Decatur County Board of Commissioners.