While the rains tried to throw the Camellia Professional Cowboy Association Rodeo this weekend, the event drew several thousand spectators Friday and Saturday nights.
Jammie Smith, who organized the majority of the rodeo with his wife Liz, said with the rain earlier in the evening Friday, he had been holding his breath.
Denard Butler of Ellenwood, Ga., waits to rope atop Jessie during Friday's festivities. Click here for more photos
Photo by Jim Wallace
"I watched the weather all day. In fact, I watched the weather all week. I prayed it would stay clear, but with the rain today, I wondered. But we were going to do it regardless. The only thing that would keep us away would be thunder, lightning or severe storms," he said as a light rain fell Friday night.
The rodeo continued with the ring being a mud bog, forcing riders and the animals to have to contend with the elements. While patrons popped up umbrellas and ponchos to ward off the drizzle Friday night, Saturday night's show was rain free.
James Kennedy said the rodeo was a good thing as the fans emptied from the stands Friday night.
"I enjoyed it," he said. "It was really fun. It was really funny seeing the kids run in the mud. It's a good thing for McDuffie County. There is no drinking allowed, so you can bring the kids. And the family can have a night out."
Ten-year-old Haley Chalker from Gibson chased through the mud during the Calf Scramble, seeking to grab the ribbon before close to 30 other children did.
"I just ran around in the mud. I'm a fast runner, and I just dove for the tail and grabbed the ribbon."
For her soily effort, she won $20 and said she will spend it on clothes.
One local resident also had a great rodeo experience Saturday night. Ric Crawford of Thomson stayed on a bull for a full eight seconds and scored a 67 in his first full ride in competition.
Denerd Butler, 20, of Ellenwood, said the weather was just one of the things cowboys face.
"It's just part of it," he said. "You try and keep dry and hope for a good ride. There isn't much use griping about it."
Studying agri-business at Georgia College, Mr. Butler said being a cowboy is expensive.
"Beside the horses, gas is one of the greatest expenses," he said. "It gets high. I ride close to a hundred shows a year, and I try to ride in at least two a weekend, so going from town to town piles the gas mileage up."
In his cowboy ventures, Mr. Butler said he was looking for his big day to arrive.
"I hope one day to make it to the big show in Las Vegas," he said. "The National Finals Rodeo is the best of the best of the best, and that would be tops. It would be a dream come true."
Mr. Butler knows he has a lot of work left to do to get the dream.
"It takes first place finishes and points and winnings," said Mr. Butler. "How much you win paves the way. No win, no trip to Las Vegas. You can do it if you put your mind to it. You just have to do that."
When the winning isn't going his way, Mr. Butler said the miles can be a little grinding.
"When things don't go right for me, up and down the road with no wins gets old. Making bad runs and others getting good ones and then me not winning any money is sad. It's kind of a spiral. Here, I'm second in roping now, so I hope it will hold through the whole weekend, and maybe I can even improve on that," he said after his ride Friday night.
Clye Denison is only 5 years old, but he began his riding experience before his birth.
"I rode with him when I was carrying him," said Carmen Denison, who lives in Iowa, La.
Clye was quick to say what he liked about riding.
"I like roping. It's pretty darn good. And I get to go to rodeos and meet people," he said.