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ride-em-cowboy-0Calling all cowboys! The weekend you’ve been waiting for all year has finally arrived, so put on your best Stetson hat, shine up your boots and pour yourself into your tightest Wranglers. It’s Sunshine Stampede time! This one-of-a-kind event for cowboys, cowgirls and their admirers will make you shout “Yee-hah!”

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Calling all cowboys! The weekend you’ve been waiting for all year has finally arrived, so put on your best Stetson hat, shine up your boots and pour yourself into your tightest Wranglers. It’s Sunshine Stampede time! This one-of-a-kind event for cowboys, cowgirls and their admirers will make you shout “Yee-hah!”

The 7th anniversary of the Sunshine Stampede is being presented by Platinum Sponsor Scandals Saloon and will take place April 20 to 22. The event is run by the Florida Gay Rodeo Association (FGRA), which is part of the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA).

FGRA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and in turn, the Sunshine Stampede is a fundraiser for other local non-profits.

The Sunshine Stampede is a unique event because it brings everyone from our community together. It’s not unusual to see lesbians, bears, twinks, the leather community and others intermingling at the event. There is definitely something for everyone at the Rodeo. Events are broken up into four categories — Rough Stock Events (Bull Riding, Bareback Bronco Riding, Junior Bull Riding and Chute Dodging); Roping Events (Calf Roping on Foot, Mounted Breakaway Roping and Team Roping); Speed Events (Barrel Racing, Pole Bending and Flag Racing); and Camp Events (Steer Decorating, Wild Drag Race and Goat Dressing).

A new addition to the rodeo this year is the Scarlett O’Hara Race.

“This race allows anyone in the stands to come down and participate – as long as they sign a waiver,” said Vice President and Assistant Rodeo Director Kole Hillman.

Three person teams can join this fun race. It costs $20 to enter and the winning team gets half the pot of whatever is brought in.

“It gets the crowd involved,” said Rodeo Director Voni Whitaker.

“It’s a lot of fun and hysterical to watch,” Hillman added. “And it gets them out of stands and into the arena. Once they get in there, they get hooked.”

The main difference between a gay and straight rodeo is that in the gay rodeo, there isn’t any gender discrimination. For example, Barrel Racing in a straight rodeo is usually a women’s event, but in the Sunshine Stampede, boys can compete too.

This rodeo is serious business. People come from all over the country to compete and the event attracts a crowd of around 4,000. In fact, the FGRA rodeo is the largest on the juried circuit and holds the largest attendance record, Hillman explained.

Those who are more into shopping and less into Rodeo sports, can load up on cowboy gear from the great selection of vendors who come in from all over the country to sell their wares. They offer a variety of upscale jewelry, necklaces, cowboy boots, shirts, leather and more.

For those who just want to party, there will be great music and line dancing in the dance tent.

The Sunshine Stampede is a unique, rootin’ tootin’ good time! Grab your pardner and head on over for some fun!

Read below for the full list of scheduled events:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Horse Stalls Open for Early Check In

1 to 5 p.m.

Bergeron Rodeo Grounds.

FGRA Royalty Show at the Manor

9 to 11 p.m.

The Manor Complex

Friday, April 20, 2012

Horse Stalls Reopen for Regular Check In

8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Bergeron Rodeo Grounds

Vendor Set-Up

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Bergeron Rodeo Grounds

Rodeo School

8:30 a.m. to noon

Bergeron Rodeo Grounds

Welcome Pool Party and Mixer

Hilton Pool Deck

2 to 6:30 p.m.

Contestant Registration

6 to 9 p.m.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

2012 Sunshine Stampede Rodeo, Day One

Bergeron Rodeo Grounds

8:45 a.m. – Gates Open

9 am – Rodeo Starts – Morning Events

12:30 p.m. – Grand Entry

1 p.m. – Rodeo – Afternoon Events

1 p.m. – Midway Tent Opens for Dancing and Entertainment

Hoedown

8 p.m.

Scandals Saloon

Sunday, April 22, 2012

2012 Sunshine Stampede Rodeo, Day Two

Bergeron Rodeo Grounds

8:45 a.m. – Gates Open

9 am – Rodeo Starts – Morning Events

12:30 p.m. – Grand Entry

1 p.m. – Rodeo – Afternoon Events

1 p.m. – Midway Tent Opens for Dancing and Entertainment

Awards Ceremony and Dinner

7:30 p.m. – Dinner Buffet begins (Dinner requires a ticket)

8 p.m. – Hilton Ballroom – Awards Ceremony

Closing Party

Scandals Saloon

8 p.m.

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