Rodeo rides into town

Kicks off today with parade, first night of competition

The rodeo is in town. No other single event manages to offer the range of entertainment for fans of all ages: athletic competition, sequined beauties, graceful steeds, patriotism, comedic relief, a chance to win prizes and even the hint of danger.

“Typically, we start with a dark house,” said nationally recognized rodeo announcer Mike Mathis.

He’s been coming to Lake Charles for the past 25 years or more.

The excitement begins at 7:30 p.m. tonight, Jan. 31, with Mathis’ unmistakable voice booming throughout Burton Coliseum, “Hello, Lake Charles.” Boots, hats and spurs are not required. (Although some fans will be decked to the nines.) All that’s required is the desire to have a good time and cheer on the great competing athletes to victory.

Showmanship reigns. Rider Kiesner will channel the spirit of the Old West with his trick roping, gun spinning and whip-cracking performance.

The rougher the stock, the better the rodeo. Reserve world champion Hot and Ready is one of the roughest. Harper & Morgan, the rodeo production

company, has him

well fed and full of meanness for the event.

The 80th annual Southwest Louisiana District Livestock Show and Rodeo is a PRCA- and WPRA-sanctioned event. Card-carrying professionals will vie for big prize money and the opportunity to go to nationals. Tyler Waguespack, a Gonzales steer wrestler, is just one of the greats who will be there.

Back again this year is beloved Rodeo Hall of Fame bullfighter and clown Lecile Harris.

Dustin Sonnier & The Wanted will perform hits and Country & Western favorites Saturday night.

Visit the American Press booth tonight to enter for a chance to win a Generation 3 Echo Dot or free print subscription delivered to your door for three months.

“I think everybody, no matter who you are or what you do, has a little bit of the cowboy in them,” Mathis said. “It’s certainly part of my heritage and this year’s event gives us the opportunity for us all to celebrate that heritage.”

Rodeo performances will be held at Burton Coliseum. Adult admission is $15, $20 or $25; children are $10, $15 or $25.