After a six-year hiatus, the Odessa Rodeo and Festival is back in the saddle again. The event will take place Oct. 26-28 at Tampa Bay Downs.
"Think of the Wild West, the cowboy his horse, and the respect for the cattle they were herding and protecting," said Chuck Badgley, ODESSAFEST president and event chairman.
This rodeo and festival is presented by ODESSAFEST, INC., a Tampa-based nonprofit organization.
The rodeo is an All-American event dating back to the 1800s in Colorado. All the competitive events are based upon various functions that had to be performed for a successful cattle round-up," Badgley explained.
"If you have never witnessed a rodeo, you will be treated to an exciting, eventful and patriotic event," he said.
The rodeo was originally held on State Road 54 in Odessa for more than 14 years.
"The original site was torn up to make room for the [construction of the] Veterans Expressway," says Terry Mohr, the rodeo's Director of Festival Events. "At that time, the rodeo moved to a location at the corner of Gunn Highway and State Road 54."
Six years ago the lease on that space was not renewed and the event went on hiatus until a new lease was negotiated with the Tampa Bay Downs for this year's rodeo, Mohr said.
The rodeo is sanctioned by the PRCA, or Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Contestants compete for money and earn points to qualify for the National Finals held in December in Las Vegas. Three rodeo events will be held over the course of the weekend.
Entertainment will be featured in a festival tent, which houses a bandstand, dance floor, barbecue, beverage stations and more. More than 75 food, beverage, crafts and other vendors will be on site.
Tickets are required to view the rodeo, but admission to the festival grounds and other events is free. Preferred seating tickets are $25, general admission is $19. Children under 10 receive a $3 discount on any ticket.
There will be plenty for the kids to enjoy -- a carnival and Kids' Fun Zone will operate throughout the weekend. Pony rides and other activities are scheduled, and a "Kiddie’s Rodeo" will be held prior to each rodeo performance in the arena. There will be performances from an equestrian drill team, an "Old West Reenactment" group, a Western fashion show, a Little Miss and Little Mr. Rodeo pageant, line dancing lessons and more.
Nashville recording artist Warren Silvers and his band will perform on Friday. Local favorites, The Black Honkeys, will take the stage on Sunday. Other musical acts will include The Applebutter Express, Amanda Drake and the Barn Burners and more.
"This is so much more than a rodeo," said Allan Cook entertianment director for the festival. "The fun begins early each day and continues well into the evening."
ODESSAFEST Inc. will donate proceeds from the rodeo to several local area charitable organizations including Camp Rotary, the Pinellas CARES Organization, the Upper Pinellas Educational Foundation, and Boy Scouts and Explorer Scouts of America.
Want to go?
What: Odessa Rodeo and Festival
When: Oct. 26-28
Where: 11225 Race Track Road, Tampa, FL 3362
Cost: Entry to festival grounds/other events is free.
General seating rodeo ticket: $19.
For More Information: www.odessarodeoandfest.com
*The Odessa Rodeo and Festival happens Oct. 26-28. An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect date. Patch regrets the error.