Eighteen-year tradition continues

Published 10:36 pm Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Gates County Rodeo slated

GATES — She’s old enough to vote.

And if she were running for office, she would win by a landslide.

The nation’s “colors” take center stage prior to the start of the Gates County Championship Rodeo. This year’s event will be held Friday and Saturday. (Cal Bryant/Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald)

The nation’s “colors” take center stage prior to the start of the Gates County Championship Rodeo. This year’s event will be held Friday and Saturday. (Cal Bryant/Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald)

For the 18th consecutive year, Aaron Brown, along with his family and a small army of volunteers, will stage the Gates County Championship Rodeo.

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Brown will once again open the gates to the Slo-Go Ranch, located on Paige Riddick Road in northern Gates County, welcoming thousands of rodeo enthusiasts, or simply those who are curious to see what all the hoopla is about.

The 2015 version of the rodeo is on tap for its traditional Mother’s Day weekend appearance, Friday and Saturday. Gates open at 5 p.m. both evenings, with the action getting under way at 7:30 p.m.

Advance tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children. Those prices increase to $15 and $10 if purchased at the gate on the two days of the event. Kids 4 and under are admitted free. Advance tickets are available at Starr Motors in Suffolk, Brinkley’s Hardware in Gates, and McKeel’s Jewelers in Ahoskie.

“We hold this on Mother’s Day weekend, because we want families to come out and enjoy the rodeo action and enjoy each other’s company,” Brown said.

The rodeo includes a wide variety of food, vendors and attractions for youngsters.

Children can enjoy pony rides for a small fee. For those who dare, the event also features a mechanical bull for armchair rodeo enthusiasts. There is a small fee for this as well.

A rodeo competitor himself, Brown said he didn’t stage the event for self-serving purposes.

“This is my way of giving something back to the community who has long supported my family and this rodeo,” Brown said. “I can’t do this alone. It takes the support of the community. Those who volunteer to help with everything from parking cars to selling popcorn are a tremendous help. We’ve developed a great network of volunteers over the years to help stage this event. Our many sponsors have been fantastic, as well.”

The Gates Volunteer Fire Department and Gates County Rescue Squad will once again be on hand to service the rodeo arena and provide medical help if needed. They will also sell hot sausage, popcorn, peanuts, cotton candy and other items. The Gates firemen also conduct a 50/50 raffle nightly.

“The firemen, rescue squad members and churches keep all the profits,” Brown noted. “There’s no way we could put on an event this big without their involvement.”

Inside the arena, the rodeo participants will vie for thousands of dollars in prize money and fight for points in their season-long competition. The event — which features bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, team roping, cowgirls’ barrel racing, breakaway roping and wild bull riding — is sanctioned by the Southern Rodeo Association, with competitors coming from throughout the United States and Canada.

“This is just good, wholesome family entertainment for all ages,” Brown said. “Over the years I’ve seen spectators from age 4 to age 80 having themselves a blast. I want to invite everyone to come out and experience what rodeo life is all about.”

There will be a specialty act both nights featuring the Rawhide and Dusty Show. Children (ages 10-and-under) can also win a brand new bicycle each night by participating in the traditional Kid’s Scramble contest.

Brown said he expects at least 3,000 spectators for the event.

The rodeo arena is located on Paige Riddick Road just off U.S. Route 13 at the Virginia-Carolina state line. Signs will point the way.