Cowboys and cowgirls converged inside the arena at the Cullman County Agricultural Center Thursday.
Some were in line waiting to test out their roping skills, while others watched as they learned tips from a pro.
It was a priceless memory many will likely talk about for days to come.
For the seventh year, the Cullman County Sheriff's Office, along with the help of other sponsors, provided all special-needs students from the Child Development Center, the Cullman County Center for the Developmentally Disabled, and across the county with a mini-rodeo.
"The faces of the children say it all," Cullman County Sheriff Mike Rainey said. "Everybody here enjoyed themselves. For some, this may be the only time they get to see something like this. We may not always have a rodeo every year, but we'll always have something for them."
Matt McGee, who will serve as the announcer for this year's rodeo, has been a contestant in the past. He was one of several with the Lone Star Rodeo Company, a professional rodeo show, helping treat the crowd to a preview of what people can expect to see tonight as the 14th annual Sheriff's Rodeo kicks off. The rodeo is dedicated to the memory of Jimmy Arrington, a former deputy who originally helped start the annual event.
"This made a lot of their days," McGee said. "It's a memory that will last them a lifetime, and for us as well. This is something Lone Star does numerous times a year around the country, and something that means a lot to us."
As the year comes to a close, the company's stop in Cullman this weekend marks the final event on the tour for 2012. McGee said the top 12 cowboys and cowgirls in each event will be competing for big prizes.
"We encourage everyone to come out and enjoy," McGee said.
Gates open at 5:30 p.m tonight and Saturday, with the show scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. Advanced tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children ages 6 to 18, and can be purchased at the sheriff's office, Jack's Western Wear in Good Hope and all locations of Traditions Bank. Admission at the door will be $12 for adults, $10 for children ages 6 to 18. Children age 5 and under will be admitted free. Proceeds from the rodeo will benefit special projects of the Cullman County Sheriff's Office.
Ashley Graves can be reached by phone at 734-2131, ext. 225, or by email at email@example.com