First Posted: 6/9/2009
LOWGAP Sally Roberts lives a quiet life in Lowgap, raising livestock and renting out an elaborate barn for weddings and parties on her 175-acre ranch. But deep down, shes still a country girl who loves a good rodeo.
This weekend, Roberts Palomino Mountain Ranch will hold a championship rodeo Friday and Saturday from 8 to 10 p.m. The event will showcase all kinds of competitors both young and old, from bareback bronco from the pros riding to mutton busting for the kids. For the novice, a mechanical bull will be available.
The event is sanctioned by the Southern States Professional Rodeo Association. Professional entrants must pay a fee, which goes into a money pool to be distributed according to finish. Monies accrued during the year are divided into a points system to determine winners at the end of the season. Ten events will take place each night and Libby Hill Seafood will be on location.
Roberts son, Jason, provides the livestock for the show from his farm in Hamptonville. His company serves roughly 20 events within a 200-mile radius of Lowgap for similar shows. The rodeo will be a family affair, as Sally Roberts other child, Jessi Bolatto, competes in barrel racing. Her husband, Adam Bolatto, is a bull fighter (think someone who distracts the animals so cowboys can get away from their animal after theyve been bucked, not the guys in tights).
Putting together a rodeo is not an easy endeavor. Everything from the competitors to the animals to food must be taken care of well in advance. In addition to that, marketing is key, so people can actually enjoy the finished product.
It takes four or five months, Roberts said of putting a rodeo together. I have to get posters and flyers and try to get sponsors.
The toughest part is getting a crowd together.
If you put signs out, half the times the state takes them down, she said. Thats my problem: trying to get the word out.
Announcers, time keepers and secretaries are also vital components to running a professional show. The animals need to be healthy and uniform in size. All in all, it costs about $10,000 until everything is ready.
Roberts recalled that in the 1980s some rodeos lasted until 4 in the morning and had more than 250 competitors every night. This weekends show should have about 75 cowboys and cowgirls each night.
Roberts has lived in Wyoming, Colo., and Concord, and at each stop she has pursued her love of rodeo. Last year, she tried a bull riding competition, but decided against it this year in favor of a rodeo.
This is what Ive always liked to do, the 57-year-old said.
Palomino Mountain Ranch is at 267 Cowboy Lane in Lowgap. Entrance to the rodeo from the east is the next right after the main driveway that is pillared by horse statues. For more information, call Sally Roberts at 352-4335.
Contact Ed Phillipps at [email protected] or 719-1921.