49th annual UT Martin Spring Rodeo kicks off

MARTIN, Tenn. — The 49th annual University of Tennessee Martin Spring Rodeo kicks off Thursday night.

As one of the largest college rodeos around, they have all the best events, allowing college teams to compete together and individually.

“We have bareback, saddle bronc, bull riding — those are your rough-stock events,” UTM Rodeo Booster Club President Katie White said. “Then your timed events are your calf roping, your team roping, bulldogging, which everyone seems to love, which the official name’s steer wrestling. And of course you have the cowgirls barrel racing.”

UTM senior Tucker Kail is competing in his fourth Spring Rodeo and says it’s been the ride of his life.

“It’s the fastest four years of my life, and I recommend to everybody, teammates, whoever, family and friends that come to the rodeo, have a big time and don’t worry about anything,” he said.

While the arena may seem pretty empty right now, the stands will be packed this week for this 49-year-old tradition inspiring those young and old.

“I remember coming here as a little kid, as a little girl,” UTM junior McKenna Cox said, reflecting on how surreal it is to be competing. “I would come here during high school and I would work and help through slack and I was like, ‘man, I want to compete in that rodeo one day,’ and it’s great to be able to do that.”

Freshman Casey Allen has been a cowgirl since birth, and she said her life wouldn’t be the same without rodeo.

“I have to go to my classes, I have to keep good grades here in college because I have to stay eligible to be on the team,” she said. “And that keeps me focused, and it drives me forward every day. And my horse is my best friend!”

The rodeo starts at 7:30 each night, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tickets can be purchased at the door each night.

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