CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — A hometown favorite spanning generations, the Dixie Roundup Rodeo is returning for its 87th year in the heart of historic downtown St. George. Saddle up for three action-packed nights of competition and entertainment, along with plenty of patriotism and local pride.
This year’s Dixie Roundup Rodeo will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 6-11 p.m. at the Dixie Sunbowl. And don’t miss the rodeo parade, returning triumphantly after a hiatus in 2020. The parade starts on Tabernacle Street near 1000 East at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Rodeo committee chairman Matt Stillman highlighted a new attraction at this year’s event that’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser: the beer barn. Attendees will also have chances to win giveaway prizes including a half of beef and a gun safe. And Texas-based Bobby Kerr promises a dazzling and daring show of horsemanship with his specialty act featuring wild mustangs.
Depending on wind conditions, a flag jumper is expected to deliver the stars and stripes at the beginning of each night. Stillman said the grand entry has been reimagined and features a poignant tribute to the 13 military servicemembers killed in Kabul, Afghanistan, last month. On Friday, Balance of Nature will lead the arena in a bell-ringing ceremony to celebrate the 233rd anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution.
Each year, the rodeo committee selects a local citizen to be recognized for their contributions to the community. Longtime Lions member Joe Empey will receive the honor of touring the arena as grand marshal. Empey, a Washington County native whose family roots in the area stretch back seven generations, served as a building inspector for the city of St. George and became a well-known face around town during his lengthy career with the St. George Fire Department.
The 2021 rodeo queen and princess were selected in May, marking the end of a two-year reign for the 2019 royalty, as last year’s pageant was canceled. Rodeo royalty contestants are judged on modeling, speech, impromptu questions, photogenic ability and interview as well as the key component of horsemanship. 23-year-old Madisen Wallace from Glenwood and 13-year-old Kodie Stowell of Parowan have spent the summer participating in rodeos across Utah and representing the St. George Lions through volunteering at many different events.
“They’ve accomplished a lot in their young life,” Stillman said.
The opening night, Thursday, is kids’ night. Children ages 11 and under may enter for free – and instead spend their money on the St. George Lions’ “world-famous” hamburgers and hot dogs.
Friday is Pink Night, when $1 from every ticket will be set aside for the Intermountain Foundation to benefit breast cancer patients. Both spectators and rodeo competitors are encouraged to wear pink to show support for breast cancer awareness.
Saturday is the finals, and event which Stillman said always sells out quickly. The Dixie Roundup Rodeo is sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and features some of the best cowboys and cowgirls the West has to offer. Bull riding, bareback and saddle bronc riding, team roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing are among the competitive categories.
Admission costs $20 per person for reserved seating, $15 for adults and $5 for kids ages 11 and under. Kids age 2 and younger who can sit on a parent’s lap may enter for free. Tickets can be purchased directly from the St. George Lions at 301 E. 100 South or by calling the rodeo hotline at 435-673-3301. The sales office is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
All three nights will feature the hilarious antics of veteran rodeo clown and barrel man Randee Munns from Garland, Utah, who has been entertaining crowds at the Dixie Sunbowl for over 30 years. His history with the rodeo goes back to the late 1960s, when he competed in steer wrestling and bull riding. While in town to perform each September, he also tours local schools to introduce kids to rodeo.
“The tradition of Western heritage in the community is very, very strong,” Munns said. “We’re just trying to keep it alive.”
The Dixie Roundup Rodeo started as a small event put on by the founding members of the St. George Lions. The Dixie Sunbowl has been the rodeo’s home ever since the arena opened in the late 1940s.
Today, the rodeo serves as the only source of revenue for the St. George Lions and supports their charitable contributions to scholarship funds, rodeo clubs, collegiate sports teams and 4-H and Future Farmers of America high school programs in the Washington County area. The proceeds also fund the local arm of the Lions International initiative to improve quality of life for the visually impaired, and each Pink Night typically raises between $10,000-$12,000, resulting in the St. George Lions donating over $100,000 to the Intermountain Foundation through the years.
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
• S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T •
- What: St. George Lions Dixie Roundup Rodeo.
- When: September 16-18, 6-11 p.m.
- Where: Dixie Sunbowl, 150 S. 400 East, St. George.
- Tickets: Reserved seating – $20; general admission – adults $15, children age 11 and under $5.
- Information: Telephone: 435-673-3301 | Email: [email protected]| Website.
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