BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Large crowds gathered Saturday night at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi to watch the Gulf Coast Black Rodeo put on its annual big show.
This is the sixth year that the rodeo has been held, providing lots of fun entertainment for families of all kinds. The event also gave the chance for one lucky cowboy to grab $25,000 in prize money for staying on a bull more than eight seconds.
The event is organized each year by the Real Cowboy Association, which brings together some of the top rodeo and cowboy event professionals in the industry, allowing them to show off in events such as barrel racing, saddle bronc riding and steer wrestling.
Officials with the RCA say that being a cowboy is a way of life and requires a specific set of character traits, like not being afraid of a half-ton bull, a lot of courage and skill, and not being afraid to get a little dirty.
"It's got to be bred in you, like anything else," said RCA president Frank Penny Edwards. "There are people that cook good. There are people that want to be pilots. There are people that want to be something. There are cowboys that want to be cowboys."
The Black Rodeo first began as a group of all-black cowboys but has since broken racial barriers, now including cowboys and cowgirls of all ethnicity. They don't discriminate against age either, with some young cowboys starting to ride horses as young as toddlers.
But just because they're small, that doesn't mean they have any fear.
"True cowboys gonna do what they do gotta do," said Kamauri Crutison of North Mississippi.
Most of those who travel with the rodeo are from Texas and have been on the farm all of their lives.
"We bale the hay and feed the cattle and take care of the pastures and fences and all that stuff I guess you only get to see sometimes in the movies, but we do it," said Pat White, a rancher from Texas.
White says it truly is a way of live, with the rodeo being the stage for cowboys to show off what they can do.
"Rodeo is something that is from the western days and this is a competition that the cowboys kind of get to get out of those fields and stuff and come and show their stuff."
The Real Cowboy Association has been hosting a national tour for many years, providing cowboys and cowgirls the chance to compete against each other in a wide range of events, like bull riding and calf roping. A famous championship event is also held at the end of the tour season, with those who performed well at the local events being invited to compete.