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|Annual prep rodeo starts Friday|
With football season wrapping up and prep basketball heading for post-season, high school rodeo takes center stage this week in West Monroe as the Northeast Louisiana High School Rodeo invades the Ike Hamilton Expo Center in West Monroe.
The rodeo begins on Friday night at 7 p.m. and continues on Saturday at 7 p.m. Events wrap up Sunday beginning at 9 a.m. with the junior high events.
Admission is $5 for adults and children under five are free.
"If you are a fan of rodeos, this week the Ike Hamilton Expo Center is definitely the place to be," president of the Northeast Louisiana High School Rodeo Eric Hammons said.
"You are talking about a full-fledged rodeo this week. You are going to see bull riding and saddle-bunk riding, steer wrestling, calf-roping, team roping and barrel racing to name a few.
"There are about 13 different events that you are going to get to see over the three-day span."
Serving as a qualifier for the Louisiana State Rodeo Championships as well as the national championships, Hammons said that the rodeo will feature local talent as well as some of the top riders throughout the state.
"Schools from throughout the entire state of Louisiana are going to be here this weekend competing," Hammons said. "We are looking from anywhere to 300-400 participants.
"These are qualifying rodeos and the points that they accumulated will go towards the state finals and that will help determine who the state champions are. Then they take the top four finishers in every event to the National Championships which are in New Mexico this year."
Hammons said for anyone really looking for an exciting thing to do this weekend, regardless of whether you are familiar with rodeos or not, to come out and see what is happening at the Ike Hamilton Expo Center because they will enjoy themselves once they give it a chance.
"It's exciting because kids can come out and see a lot of kids their own age compete," Hammons said. "Most people are interested in it because they cannot see themselves doing something like this.
"The other thing is that this is just good clean fun. It is a good, clean recreational activity. It may get other people who have never done it before interested in it. This requires parental involvement and maybe this brings some people and families together. It is a very family-oriented event and I encourage people to try and come out and check it out."One of 23 state qualifying prep rodeos will make its annual appearance in Ouachita Parish this weekend.
The rodeo is sponsored by the Northeast Louisiana Rodeo Association and will be held at the Ike Hamilton Expo Center in West Monroe beginning Friday.
The junior high or Wrangler Division, features several different events from the high school group.
The state finals for the Wrangler Division are held at the Ike May 16-18..
Winners of the state Wrangler Division rodeo advance to the National Finals Rodeo in New Mexico.
Competitors have to attend the 23 qualifying rodeos in order to compete for the state rodeo which is held in Gonzales. The competitors have to compete regardless of the weather. As of right now, there are only two indoor arenas in the state in West Monroe and Gonzales.
Scores from each rodeo are added to gether and the top 30 in each event advance to the state rodeo.
The top four from the state rodeo qualify for the National Finals Rodeo which is held in Springfield, Ill.
Competitors may represent the high school they attend, but the high school does not provide them with any support.