The rodeo will return this weekend by way of the eighth annual Sandy Oaks Pro Rodeo at the Lazy J Arena, just 10 miles west of Edgefield on S.C. Highway 23. Riders will compete in bareback bronc riding, barrel racing, bull riding, saddle bronc, calf roping, steer wrestling, cowgirl break-away roping and team roping.
“We have world champion cowboys and cowgirls who come here,” said Sandy Quarles, co-owner of Sandy Oaks. “This is one of the highest paying rodeos in the nation as far as prize money is concerned.”
Gates open on Friday, Aug. 23, and Saturday, Aug. 24, at 6 p.m., with performances at 8 p.m. A Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, petting zoo and pony rides will be available for children prior to the rodeo. Also on hand will be a western vendor and food vendors serving funnel cakes, hamburgers, “swamp” dogs, “Jack Russell” hot dogs, Brusters ice cream and more.
Featured entertainment will be Rodeo Clown of the Year Mike Wentworth; World Champion Bucking Horse of the Year “War Horse”; and 2011-2012 IPRA World Champion Bucking Bull “Wolverine” as well as trick riders and S.L. Pemberton & Family ropers.
Stock contractor is Ken Treadway Rodeo Company, which has produced the most IPRA rodeos in the nation.
Quarles and her husband Wesley, who both have rodeo experience, started the Edgefield event after she had surgery in 2006.
“This was something I could do while I was recuperating, and also I had always wanted to do a rodeo,” she said. “So, we got with the contractor and the first year, it rained 12 inches. The second year, it rained 10 inches. It rained every year and finally after the sixth one, the contractor said, ‘It’s time to change the dates.’ ”
“The committee settled on August,” she said. “And here it is raining again.”
But nevertheless, attendance skyrocketed last year, the first year after the change.
“Last year, 6,000 people attended both nights,” she said. “The deputies said, ‘They’re backed up to the fire department’ and I said, ‘Great!’ ’’
She added, “We’re hoping for an even bigger crowd this year!”
In case of rain, the rodeo will be extended through Sunday afternoon.
Each year, the Quarleses give away 2,000 tickets to elementary school children in Saluda, McCormick and Edgefield county schools.
“It’s our way of giving back to the community and doing what we love at the same time,” Quarles said.
Ticket prices are $10 in advance, $12 at the gate for adults; $5 for children (6-11); $9 for seniors ages 60 and older; and $9 each in groups of 10 or more.
Ticket outlets include: Boots, Bridles and Britches (Aiken and Grovetown); Tractor Supply (Aiken, Augusta, Newberry and Lexington); Country Boy Farm Supply (North Augusta); Interstate Battery Systems (North Augusta); Daniel Village Barber Shop (Augusta); Maxwell & Halford Drugs (Johnston); Crouch Hardware (Edgefield); SRP Federal Credit Union (Edgefield Branch); Carquest Auto Parts (McCormick); The Hardware Store (Saluda); and Greenwood Co-op.
For more details, including a map and directions, go to sandyoaksprorodeo.org.