The rodeo, like almost everything else, isn't quite what it used to be.
This is according to Bo Campbell, who will judge the Shriner's Professional Rodeo at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center tonight through Sunday.
"Used to be a cowboy was just the roughest and toughest guy around," Mr. Campbell said. "Nowadays there are schools held all over the U.S. for every event. It's come from who can be the roughest and toughest to who's the best athlete."
The schools aren't exactly the kind where you get a dorm room and build a cinderblock bookcase. They're usually three-day affairs that teach the basics of competing in an event such as calf roping or steer wrestling.
Another change is the money. Many barrel racers, for example, have a $30,000 horse they transport in a $30,000 truck with a $20,000 trailer, he said. This means rodeo competition isn't just for ranchers anymore.
"You got bank presidents and lawyers," Mr. Campbell said. "We got construction workers and we got people who own their own businesses. It's got modernized so much, you don't see nearly as many of the people who were raised on a ranch doing it."
The rodeo at the Civic Center has been sanctioned by the Professional Cowboy Association, and more than 300 competitors are expected. They will compete in eight events, including steer wrestling, calf roping, barrel racing, bare back riding, breakaway roping, team roping, calf scramble and bull riding.
This event will be the association's first official rodeo of 1997. In addition to competing for about $25,000 in prize money, the competitors collect points that will enable them to get into championships at the end of the year. The field will include several of the association's top performers.
All events will be performed each day, but not all competitors will perform each day. For instance, if a bull rider performs today, he will likely be out of town by Saturday. But those riders performing Saturday and Sunday still have to compete against his time.
What:Shriner's Professional Rodeo
When: 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center
How much: $10.50 in advance; $12.50 day of rodeo.
Phone: For tickets 828-7700. For information, 592-4563.