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High school rodeo coming to Posse Arena

By Staff | Dec 31, 2014

January is going to be a very busy month at the Lee County Sheriff’s Posse Arena.

Of course, the annual Cracker Day Rodeo will be held on the third weekend. But before that, the arena will host a high school rodeo on Jan. 3 and 4, where many of the state’s most talented young cowboys and cowgirls will compete for top honors in numerous events with hopes of making it to the state, and perhaps national, finals.

The Saturday performance starts at 2 p.m., with the Sunday show kicking off at 9 a.m. Each performance will have 10 riders in each event.

The extra riders will compete in slack, which will take place at 10:30 a.m. for barrels and goal tying, and immediately after the rodeo for all other events.

Shawn Matthew, vice president and event coordinator at the arena, said she doesn’t remember the arena ever hosting a high school rodeo, but said it would be a good thing as her daughter will be in high school next year.

“It’s rare that a high school rodeo comes this far south and the posse is happy to support the organization,” Matthew said. “I think the change is because the president lives in Alva, so many of there shows are in the south instead of north Florida.”

Paul Albert, new president of the Florida High School Rodeo Association, said he’s trying to schedule from one end of the state to the other, but since he lives close, he likes the Posse Arena.

“Fort Myers has always been a rodeo town. The people enjoy it and we’re 100 percent non-profit,” Albert said. “It’s my home court, but I know people here enjoy rodeo and we will have a crowd.”

High school rodeo is different from the pros in that boys and girls compete in nearly the same amount of events, rather than just one for girls.

The boys have bareback and saddle bronc riding, bull riding, steer wrestling and calf roping, while the girls compete in barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying and breakaway calf roping. Team roping, the only team event, can be co-ed.

Unlike other high school events, it also offers optional jackpot money for winners, which is paid separate from entry fees.

Competitors must turn in their report cards and have a 2.0 GPA to participate.

After the 16 rodeos throughout the year, the top 15 in each event compete in the state finals in Okeechobee, with the top four of those going to nationals in Rock Springs, Wy.

Matthew said it’s not only a busy month, but a busy season for the arena, as most dates through March are booked, which is very important since the arena is a non-profit organization.

“People are under the belief that because of the name, we’re supported by the local sheriff. We are not. We are self-supported by memberships and the Cracker Day Rodeo, which is our biggest fundraiser,” Matthew said.

Tickets are $8, with $2 for parking. Children under 12 are free. For more info, go to www.fhsra.com.