Pull over airplanes. Bucking bulls, barrel racers and rodeo clowns are landing at LaGrange-Callaway Airport this Labor Day weekend.
The local airport will host the third annual Elm City Masonic Lodge Rodeo on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, with the bulk of the proceeds to benefit the Troup County Volunteer Fire Department. Activities begin at 8 each night.
Sanctioned by the Professional Cowboys Association and put on by Oubre Rodeo Company, the action will include eight standard rodeo events – bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, girls breakaway roping, team roping, girls barrel racing and bull riding.
“We’ll also have rodeo clowns, specialty acts, a calf scramble for the children, pony rides and lots of vendors,” said Bubba Oubre, whose family has coordinated rodeos here for more than four decades. “We started this rodeo in 1971 on my dad’s place (on Hamilton Road) and it’s grown to this. We have seating capacity for 2,500 people each night. It’s family entertainment that’s fun for everybody.”
Through the years, different organizations have sponsored the rodeo as a fundraising event for various causes, including 4-H, Pineland Sheriffs’ Youth Home, Elm City Masonic Lodge and, now, the Volunteer Fire Department.
Proceeds from the rodeo will go towards purchasing much-needed communications equipment and structural firefighting gear for local volunteer firefighters, according to Jason Cadenhead, president of the Troup County Volunteer Fire Department Council.
“We are short on gear and don’t have enough pagers to go around to each member, so we’re branching out to do a fundraiser,” said Cadenhead.
The Troup County Volunteer Fire Department includes about 60 active volunteers who serve eight fire stations, including four full-volunteer stations (Liberty Hill, Rosemont, Gray Hill and Harrisonville) and four combination stations staffed partly by volunteers and partly by paid staff of the Troup County Fire Department. The combination stations are located at Hillcrest, Mountville, Abbottsford and Oak Grove.
“About 73 percent of all firefighters in the United States are volunteer firefighters,” said Cadenhead. “We provide an important service and save the county money.”
West Georgia Technical College hosted the annual rodeo the past two years at their campus on Fort Drive, but the event has outgrown that location, according to Oubre.
“We thank the county manager and commissioners for allowing us to have the rodeo at the airport,” said Oubre. “It’s real pretty out there and with 450 acres, it will be easy for the participants and spectators to get in and out. We hope it becomes our permanent location.”
“As a member of our business and industrial community, the airport welcomes the opportunity to provide a venue for the rodeo,” said Roy Spinks, chairman of the Troup County Airport Authority. “We’re hopeful it will benefit the volunteer firefighters as well as make the public more aware of services provided by the airport.”
“It’s a great opportunity to show off the airport to the community, to show what sort of asset we have out there, while helping our volunteer fire department get the equipment they need to continue the valuable service they provide,” said County Manager Tod Tentler.