If I owned a cowboy hat I'd be tipping it to the Optimist Club of Belleville for the fine rodeo they hosted recently on MidAmerica Airport's spacious grounds. True to the advertisement, the event provided "wholesome family entertainment" while Mother Nature cooperated with clear skies and cool temperatures.
It was refreshing to begin the evening with a prayer followed by the National Anthem sung by a real person.
Next up were various first-rate rodeo competitions like bull and bronco riding, steer wrestling and roping, and barrel racing. Neat kid-friendly events were also mixed in to keep everyone involved.
Veteran rodeo announcer, Matt McGee, kept things moving along and teamed with barrel man (AKA: rodeo clown), Donnie Landis, to keep fans chuckling and attentive.
I watched with some trepidation as my 6-year-old grandson joined with 20 to 30 other screaming kids, chasing after 200-pound calves in the big corral. The goal was to snatch one of the $5 or $1 stickers affixed to each calf. It was sometimes hard to tell who was chasing whom, but all survived.
There was an abundance of carnival-like food and drink, pony rides, and plenty of souvenirs for fans of all shapes, sizes, and ages.
My family is already looking forward to next year when the 22nd annual edition is scheduled to come to town. Heck, I might even buy a cowboy hat so I can better fit in.