Society & Culture

UGA celebrates 40 years of roping, riding at Great Southland Stampede Rodeo

Great Southland Stampede Rodeo 2013 tie-down roping-v.action
Justin Thigpen of Waycross

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia’s Block and Bridle Club is gearing up for the 40th annual Great Southland Stampede Rodeo, which will roll into Athens April 10-12 at the UGA Livestock Instructional Arena, 2600 South Milledge Ave.

Gates will open at 6 p.m. each night, and the rodeo will start at 8 p.m.

Cowboys and cowgirls from all over the country will be in town to show off their skills and battle for top rodeo rankings at the International Professional Rodeo Association-sanctioned event.

“This is a 40-year-long tradition that the folks who came before us have helped to keep alive here in Athens, and we’re excited to be able to share that tradition with the northeast Georgia community again this year and for 40 more years to come,” said Heath Whiddon, the 2014 Rodeo chair and a senior poultry science major in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

About 100 student volunteers from the college have worked for months to prepare for the rodeo. Since 1974, the event has introduced thousands of UGA students and northeast Georgians to the world of steer wrestling, barrel racing and bull riding.

Students use proceeds from the rodeo to support Block and Bridle Club events and to fund an academic scholarship.

This year’s rodeo kicks off April 10 with a “Tough Enough to Be a Dawg” student night. Tickets for students with a valid UGA identification card will be $10 at the door.

April 11 is “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” night, and the rodeo organizers will donate $1,000 to the Breast Health Center at Athens Regional Medical Center. Attendees are encouraged to wear pink in support of those who have battled breast cancer.

April 12 is “Tough Enough to Serve” night, recognizing the service of America’s military men and women. Attendees are encouraged to show their support by wearing red, white and blue. Organizers will donate $1,000 to Faces of Freedom, a combat veterans support organization spearheaded by Col. Michael Steele, who is a UGA alumnus, former Bulldog football player and retired U.S. Army officer.

The Block and Bridle Club has expanded the children’s activities available before and during the rodeo with face painting, pony rides, a petting zoo, photo booth cutouts and rodeo-themed games. There also will be a wide variety of food vendors with child-friendly options.

UGA alumnus and professional rodeo announcer Roger Mooney will provide commentary. Events will include saddle and bareback bronc riding, breakaway roping, barrel racing, team roping, steer wrestling and Brahman bull riding.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for children under 12 years old. Admission for children three and under is free. To preorder discounted tickets of $12 for adults and $10 for children, call 706-542-9374 or see

Seating is limited. Doors will be closed for general admission once attendance has reached maximum capacity. The arena is a covered venue, and the event will take place rain or shine.

For more information, call 706-542-9374 or see