Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

March 21, 2014

Saddle club hosts event for special needs children

NASHVILLE — The 21st Annual Exceptional Rodeo took place Thursday afternoon at the Berrien County Saddle Club.  Although the Exceptional Rodeo has been going on since before the Cotton Blossom Roundup was initiated, it now serves as a precursor for the event.

The Exceptional Rodeo rodeo pairs special needs children from Berrien and Cook counties with FFA and 4-H partners for the day. More than 100 special needs kids participated in this year’s events. They spent their time at the rodeo playing on props modified to emulate the seven events that will take place in the professional rodeo. Real horses were also available for kids to ride.

FFA and 4-H prepared lunch for the kids,  which was followed by a rodeo speciality act. Trick riders Melody McCray and eight-year-old Kirby Rice dazzled the kids with a variety of stunts performed on horses in the arena. The act following was Tim “Wild Thang” Lepard, who will also be the speciality act for the Cotton Blossom Roundup. He has a team of monkeys that ride on border collies and herd sheep.

The Exceptional Rodeo is organized by Prissy Massingill, whose daughter, Crissy Staley, is actively involved as well. “It gives the kids a special sneak preview of the rodeo,” says Staley. “It lets them get out of the classroom and be cowboys and cowgirls for the day.”

The fifth annual Cotton Blossom Roundup will kick off at 7:30 p.m. tonight and will continue Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Cowboys and

cowgirls will compete in a variety of events, including tie down calf roping, steer wrestling and bull riding. The rodeo is sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association.

Tonight is military appreciation night with discounts given to military personnel with proper identification. Special events spotlighting local talent will also take place over the weekend. Tongiht also features a principle challenge calf scramble with the winner receiving an ice cream party for their whole school and $250 provided by Harvey’s Supermarkets. Saturday night will feature representatives from Berrien County Relay for Life teams scrambling to win $250.

The Cotton Blossom Roundup is held at the Berrien County Saddle Club on Country Farm Road. Gates open at 6 p.m. Adult tickets will be $10 and children tickets will be $5. Proceeds from the roundup benefit the Nashville-Berrien Rotary Club and Berrien County Chamber of Commerce.

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