By Joe Reavis
Professional rodeo thrills return to town this week at the 25th annual Wylie Championship Rodeo hosted by Wylie Chamber of Commerce.
Gates open at 6:30 p.m. and rodeo performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 8 and 9, at Wylie Rodeo Arena on Hensley Lane behind Wylie High School. Parking is at the Cooper and Draper schools parking lot Friday and at WHS Saturday. A free shuttle service provides transportation to the arena. Also, FFA students will operate a parking area on Hensley and offer shuttle service.
Originally a ranch rodeo featuring everyday ranch duties such as doctoring, sorting and bronco riding, the event has involved into a rough-stock event featuring bull riding and bronc busting, but also with timed events of calf roping, team roping and barrel racing. The two nights of entertainment are sanctioned by United Professional Rodeo Association.
Chamber President Mike Agnew pointed out that the rodeo is one of the major fundraisers of the organization and is an endeavor that requires many volunteer hours to pull off successfully every year.
“It’s a lot of work, but is a lot of fun when you get there,” Agnew said. “We have a good group of volunteers that have done the rodeo for many years.”
The chamber has lined up 45 food and vendor booths and free games for children. The Kiddie Korral features inflatable slides and bounce houses. Wylie FFA students will operate a petting zoo for children and a mechanical bull for older rodeo fans.
To make sure spectators do not miss any of the rodeo action, this year an inflatable screen will be set up in the vendor area to show a simulcast of the competition.
Agnew reports that seating has been increased by 300 with the addition of bleachers retired from the Wylie East High School softball field. Total seating is about 1,800 including 250 in the VIP section.
VIP ticket holders can watch the rodeo from tents and a special seating area set up near the bucking chutes, and are treated to a catered meal and drink service. Spectators can check with the chamber for remaining availability of VIP tickets.
In addition to rodeo action and children’s activities, live music performances will take place throughout the evening on a stage located on the east side of the F.O. Birmingham Agricultural Center swine barn.
General admission is $15 per night for adults and $5 for children and senior citizens, with children under the age of three admitted free. A family pack, that includes admission for two adults and two children, is $35 a night.
The Wylie rodeo attracts an average of 2,000 people each night to experience the rodeo action and take part in activities geared toward the entire family. Founding sponsor of the event is Inwood National Bank.