Amber Cunningham placed 1st in Senior Barrel Racing at the Free Range Cowboy Church Rodeo Association’s Spring Rodeo series on April 21st. Sixteen year old Cunningham from Gans, Oklahoma and has been barrel racing for over 2 years. Photo courtsy of Kickin Up Dirt Photography. Additional Rodeo pictures can be seen at www.kickinupdirtphotography.com.
In 1991 Garth Brooks wrote a song about a man whose love was in Tulsa. Was it a woman? No, it is a thing called rodeo. Like the man in Garth Brooks’ song, the city of Greenwood has developed rodeo fever over the last few weeks. The reason behind it is the Free Range Cowboy Church Rodeo Association’s Spring Rodeo series.
According to Kirby Vaughn, one of the people behind the FRCCRA, the Spring Rodeo series is an eight week buckle series where children 18 and under can compete in 21 different age appropriate events for cash prizes and a commemorative buckle. Mr. Vaughn also said that experience is not a requirement in order to participate. “Some of these kids have never gotten on anything in their lives and some of them have been doing it all of their lives…from four-years-old all the way to 18.” Participants
who competed one week have the opportunity to return and compete on a weekly basis. In order for a child to be eligible to win the buckle they do have to be a member of the FRCCRA. The competing members with the highest number of points per category win the buckle.
According to Mr. Vaughn, the children get to participate in all aspects of the rodeo from singing the national anthem to riding (and in one case milking) animals. One of the primary concerns for the FRCCRA is safety. “It’s all about the kids…in each event the parent has to be here to give us permission so they can ride. I mean we try to keep the kids safe, but we do deal with animals so you never know what’s going to happen.” The FRCCRA has trained personnel there in case certain animals become a problem.
The FRCCRA is an extension of the Free Range Christian Fellowship, which is located at 1127 Stewart Court in Greenwood. According to Mr. Vaughn, who also serves as pastor of the church, the FRCCRA was formed last fall and held its first rodeo series around the same time. Mr. Vaughn says that he plans for both the spring and fall series of rodeos to be annual events. Unlike other rodeo associations, the FRCCRA is not affiliated with other groups, but if another organization wanted to partner up with the FRCCRA, that would be fine. “If there is any church that ever wants to join with us to participate in any type of event we would be willing to help in any other way that we can” said the pastor.
Presently the Spring Rodeo series just completed its fourth week. While it is still to early to tell who is in the running for the coveted buckle for each event, it is clear that the participants have pushed themselves to the limit in order to gain the prize. One of the things that Mr. Vaughn is quick to remind everyone is that while competition is nice in the end, “It’s all about the kids”. A list of events and standings through April 21st can be found on our website www.greenwooddemocrat.com.