By Chloe Morrison
CHICKAMAUGA, Ga. — A rodeo is about more than bucking broncos and trick riding. It's also about family, said Susan Millican, owner of Cove Arena where this weekend's annual Kensington Rodeo is taking place.
"It's kind of neat because the rodeo has not changed in hundreds of years," she said. "It is what it is, but the families that come to participate, it is a lifestyle for them."
The rodeo, which wraps up tonight, is Cove Arena's biggest event of the year. About 6,000 people are expected to attend, and proceeds benefit Antioch Baptist Church's youth group, Mrs. Millican said.
Trick rider Melody McCray will perform with her riding partner, Shannon Dore. Ms. McCray said she began trick riding, which is "standing up and dragging on a running horse," because her mother and aunt were trick riders.
"(Trick riding) is hard to explain, but once you see it, it is like, 'wow,' " she said.
Ms. McCray gets paid to perform about seven minutes each night, she said. Because there are few trick riders today, there aren't many competitions, she said, but added that it is about more than pay or competition.
"I like going and meeting people at the different rodeos," Ms. McCray said. "The little kids you meet, they think it is the coolest thing ever. I just see it in their faces. They come up to you after the rodeo and think it is the neatest thing."
Mike Robertson is the pickup man for the rodeo. He said his job is to help cowboys get off bucking horses safely. Mr. Robertson, who has been a pickup man for 20 years, also is a cowboy evangelist and preaches at rodeos. He will help lead tonight's church service before the rodeo.
Mr. Robertson said the event is family-oriented. His daughters are rodeo riders, and he said he enjoys the fellowship that comes along with rodeos.
"I enjoy ... talking to the different contestants," he said. "It is like a family affair. We get to see people we have been friends with (for a long time). It is kind of a subculture, you might say."
E-mail Chloe Morrison at email@example.com