Vancleave Rodeo Helps Firefighters

Professional cowboys are helping volunteer firefighters in Vancleave.

This weekend's annual rodeo will raise money for new fire fighting equipment and training.

Wayne Dawson keep an eye on the bulls as son Zack and his friend D.J. helped hang sponsor posters at the rodeo arena.

The two day event is the fire department's biggest fund raiser and a way for the community to say thanks.

"We spend a lot of our spare time, what little spare time we have, running around fighting fires. Getting up at two in the morning to go out and put out somebody's fire or pull somebody out of a wrecked vehicle," Dawson said.

Firefighters all pitch in to prepare for the rodeo crowd. Money raised last year helped pay for a new engine and rescue truck. The equipment upgrade saved residents on insurance when Vancleave was granted an improved fire rating last year.

Randall Platt is one of two paid firefighters that works at the Vancleave station.

"If we don't keep the funds up and keep all our equipment up like it needs to be, we could actually lose our eight rating. So, it's important for them to remember they need to come out and support us as much as they can," Platt said.

This year's rodeo crowd will enjoy top notch competition.

"One thing they can expect is the largest number of contestants we've ever had here. We've got guys coming from South Florida and from Texas. We've got world champions, past world champions. Everybody's coming this year to this rodeo," rodeo producer Beau Campbell said.

The most dangerous rodeo event will also probably be most popular.

Thirteen-year-old Zack Dawson says bull riding is best.

"Well, it's kind of fun seeing the guys get thrown off," Dawson said.

The bulls are ready to do their part.

Vancleave firefighters are counting on the community to make the rodeo a fund raising success.

The rodeo events start at 8 p.m. both Friday and Saturday at the rodeo arena on Ballpark Road in Vancleave. Tickets are available at the gate. They cost $10 for adults and $5 for children.