This year’s Panola County Cattlemen’s Pro Rodeo is drawing an unusually large number of competitors to Carthage.

Cattlemen’s Association President Terry Holland said they’d have a total of 325 contestants this year, including 111 barrel racers. He attributes the jump to the fact that things are finally starting up again after COVID.

“Everything’s been shut down for so long, finally guys are getting to rodeo and go places,” he said.

One of their first stops will be here in Carthage, where the Pro Rodeo is set to take place Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. each night at the Rodeo Arena. Slack rodeos will take place Saturday morning.

Adult tickets are $10 each, with all tickets being sold at the gate. There is free admission to children 12 and under.

All events are approved by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, with bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, steer rustling, team roping and barrel racing planned.

The rodeo will also host a calf scramble each night for kids ages 7-12, where they’ll give away five $100 bills each night, and a goose scramble for kids 6 and under.

Rider Kiesner, the PRCA’s Specialty Act of the Year, will also perform both nights. Kiesner does trick roping, whip popping and other acts. The rodeo plans to honor Vietnam veterans as well.

Twisted Hickory BBQ will be selling concessions at the rodeo. Holland encouraged everyone to come make a night of the rodeo.

“You can plan on coming out to the rodeo early. If you come out around 6 or so, you can eat and be there when the rodeo starts,” he said, later adding “If you want to wear a mask, wear a mask. We’ll have hand washing stations, we’ll have hand sanitizing stations on site. But we’re outdoors, so it’s just safer.”

The rodeo is a 70-year tradition in Carthage, and Holland thanked sponsors for sticking with them during the times.

“We ask a lot of our sponsors, and the sponsors in East Texas mainly in Panola County have been very gracious,” he said. “Most of our sponsors that have been with us the last few years stayed with us even during these times. I think people are ready to get out and do something and go to a big event. Like I said, we’re going to be safe, we’re going to be careful, but I think it’s time.”

Some of the riders may be familiar to Panola County residents, Holland said.

“There’s a lot of really top contestants that will be entered at that rodeo that are also apart of the Panola College rodeo team,” Holland said, adding “A lot of those guys like Kincaid Henry, Macon Murphy, Kolt Dement, a lot of those guys that are doing really good in college rodeo are going to be competing at the big pro rodeo too.”

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Editor

Meredith Shamburger serves as the regional editor for Carthage and Kilgore. She has previously worked at the Longview News-Journal, the Marshall News Messenger and The Dallas Morning News. Meredith graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2011.