Friday, August 5 2022

With the opening of the last piece of the Santa Rosa County AGRI-PLEX at the end of last month, Samantha Ellis and Mike Gilliard took it upon themselves to enter the finished facility with a rodeo that doubles as a New Year celebration.

“On New Years everyone seems to want to go somewhere, do something, you know? And what better than the rodeo?” said Gilliard. “It’s a family atmosphere. The families will be together. We will have fireworks to bring for the New Year.”

Ellis and Gilliard both work with the South Eastern Youth Rodeo Association, an organization that operates out of AGRI-PLEX’s June Ates Arena and works with children ages 3 to 18, offering programs like bull races. and barrel races. The organization currently has approximately 230 members, including residents of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee.

“We decided, why don’t we bring a rodeo into town? And we took it to the junior facility because they now have the new building in the back. It’s very stationary on the freeway for a lot of people. people, ”Ellis said. “It’s going to become an annual thing. We’re also going to have a huge fireworks display on Friday night.”

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The event will balance aspects of the rodeo with the festive celebrations, offering fireworks as well as competitions involving bucking horses, roped calves and sheep – an event where kids ride sheep. In addition, vendors will be present, selling local items and food.

“We’re going to have vendors there that have a lot of different things. We’ve got some cowboy designs coming up. They’re doing horseshoe art. We’ve got a few food trucks, different food trucks, that have arrived. “said Gilliard. “There’s going to be some boutique type stuff out there. So the vendors are going to be kind of like (having) different things set up that aren’t necessarily rodeo related.”

They were also successful in getting Jerry Byrd to advertise the event, who is renowned on the rodeo scene for his ability to advertise, having traveled the country for events and even partnering to host the Bulls on the Beach event. at Flora-Bama, according to Gilliard.

Byrd, who lives in Crestview, said he was excited to be working on an event at an unusual time like New Years.

“It’s a unique rodeo and a unique date. Usually there is no rodeo this weekend,” Byrd said. “You will probably have the biggest set of cowboys and cowgirls in the Southeastern United States in Florida this weekend.”

Gilliard said the event will be alcohol-free, and he and Ellis stressed that they want the event to be for families.

“New Years has kind of become a party scene for a lot of people, and we didn’t want it,” Ellis said. “We wanted something that had something for the whole family to do.”

Kyle Holley, volunteer project director for the Santa Rosa County Fair Board, said he looks forward to seeing people take full advantage of the AGRI-PLEX now that it’s completed.

“We’re so excited people are seeing the value and choosing to use it,” Holley said.

Holley said he believes the New Years event will be popular and echoed the idea that families will particularly enjoy it.

“We’re all going to have to be on deck. We expect it to be very popular,” said Holley. “You know, we expected a lot of families to come.”

The event lasts for two days, taking place on New Year’s Day and New Year’s Day. Tickets are $ 15 for adults, $ 10 for children 6 to 12, and free for children under 6. They can be purchased at the door.

The slaughter of the sheep begins at 5:45 p.m. each evening at the June Ates Arena, 8690 Bobby Brown Road, in Milton.

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