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JACKSONVILLE, Texas – The people in this east Texas community have come to expect something special every spring.
The rodeo comes to town, and with it, many of the sport’s greatest athletes. It’s a special time in Cherokee County.
The Tops in Texas Rodeo, is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, May 18-Saturday, May 20, at Lons Morris College Arena. It’s a chance to celebrate the Western way of life, and nobody does that better than the hard-working crew at Pete Carr Pro Rodeo.
“I think what makes our rodeo special is the fact that we’re professional, and we use a professional like Pete,” said Byron Underwood, chairman of the committee that organizes the annual rodeo. “We have professional cowboys, the professional acts and make it a professional event, like the different things that come with a PRCA rodeo.
“There are a lot of rodeos that haven’t been going 55 years.”
To understand what a world-class showcase exists in Jacksonville, just take a look at last year’s champions. Chad Rutherford won the title 12 months ago; this year, he’s the No. 6-ranked bareback rider in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
“I’ll go across the country to get on horses Pete’s got,” Rutherford said. “I love their stock, and I love their rodeos.”
By mixing world-class competition with family-friendly entertainment, the Carr team works diligently to make all the pieces fit to the satisfaction of cowboys, cowgirls, committee members, sponsors and fans. For that reason, Carr has been nominated for PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year five straight times.
He’s not the only award-winning piece of the puzzle for the Tops in Texas Rodeo. This year’s event will include barrelman/entertainer Justin Rumford, a four-time Clown of the Year.
“I’ve been involved in rodeo my whole life,” he said. “I’ve never done anything else, and I’ve never wanted to do anything else. I’ve always wanted to be successful. A (few) years ago when I started this venture, I knew if I really worked hard and tried really hard that I could get to the top in a hurry.” He has. In fact, he was in just his second year as a rodeo clown when he won the top honor.
“This clowning deal is the best thing I’ve ever had,” said Rumford, who has done virtually every job in rodeo at one time or another; he was raised in a family of livestock producers.
“People want to laugh at each other more than they want to laugh at something. When I’m in the arena, I’m saying the same stuff I’d say if I wasn’t clowning. It’s just me being me.”
It’s why he’s one of the best, and it’s why the staff at Pete Carr Pro Rodeo is excited for him to be in Jacksonville.