By MARVIN HAMLETT
This Saturday, Appomattox County folks will have the chance to witness a bona fide rodeo event, something that hasn’t occurred here in nearly four decades.
“Battles End Bull Bash & Barrel Racing” will take place Saturday, Sept. 21, at 4 p.m.
The rodeo will be at 8204 Oakville Road, popularly known as Penn’s Lane, between Oakville and Bent Creek on State Route 26.
The event will include bull-bucking, mutton-busting, barrel racing and much more.
“It’s non-rehearsed excitement,” said Josh Lewis, an Appomattox resident who is helping to organize the rodeo. “It’s all live. Every rodeo you go to is going to be different, even if it’s the same bulls and riders. It’s just great because it has wild animals, and you never know what they might do.”
Admission to the alcohol-free, family-friendly event is $10 in advance, $15 at the gate. Kids 8-and-under are free.
Advance tickets can be purchased at Coleman Farm Supply, Appomattox Farm & Home, CVS-Appomattox, Health & Wellness, Pamplin Exxon, East Side Gas Station, and Farmer’s Bank of Appomattox.
For Lewis, a rodeo is worth the price of admission.
The 30-year-old Lewis is a former rodeo competitor, but his body has been beaten up by bulls too much since he graduated from Appomattox County High School in 2001.
Now, he lives in Oakville and raises bucking bulls.
“There’s definitely an element of danger there. It’s one of the most dangerous sports in America,” said Lewis, who has endured concussions, stitches, surgery, and “other broken bones that I didn’t get checked on.”
“I have a whole lot of respect for the riders,” Lewis continued. “It takes a lot of courage to get on the back of something that’s three times your size and hang on to it.”
Lewis is helping his friends, Damien Bailey, and True Grit Rodeo co-owner Daniel Lanier in organizing this weekend’s rodeo.
Others helping out include Appomattox’s Robbie Lewis and True Grit co-owner D.J. Burgess.
True Grit Rodeo has already secured about a dozen local sponsors from Lynchburg-to-Farmville.
Lanier and Lewis actually “rodeoed” together in their younger days.
Lanier, of Grit, has been organizing rodeos for the past 15 years, and although Appomattox was always a destination site, it never worked out until now.
“Finally it worked out where I had an open date, and he was wanting to do it, so here we are,” said Lanier, who organizes between 30-to-40 events a year.
This weekend, Lanier said spectators will “see some of the top cowboys and cowgirls competing for a spot in the Southern Extreme Bullriding Finals. They’ll be here to climb up the standings.”
“It will be action-packed for two-and-a-half hours,” Lanier said. “I guarantee it.”
The rodeo will also have concessions and professional vendors.
Also present will be the Appomattox Rescue Squad, Pamplin EMS, and the ACHS FFA, which will be selling 50-50 tickets and helping cars to park.
“We’re trying to get everyone involved as much as we can,” he said.
“I’m super-excited about this,” Lanier said. “It’s the first time in a lot of years that a rodeo has been in Appomattox County. I’m super-excited to see what kind of turnout we’ll have. We have a large fan following ourselves. Plus we have some local bullriders that live down here. As long as the weather holds up, nobody will be disappointed.”