Louisiana State Rodeo Finals begins May 28

By Rodrick Anderson, American Press

The old proverb “Where there’s a will there’s a way” rings true for the Louisiana High School Rodeo Association.

The state finals rodeo began at 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 26, at the West Cal Arena and Events Center in Sulphur.

The event is closed to the general public.

Like so many other sporting events, the LHSRA was faced with the possibility of having to cancel its premier event because of the coronavirus pandemic.

After Gov. John Bel Edwards laid out guidelines for the return of noncontact outdoors sports on May 14, the LHSRA started to make plans to host the event at the Burton Coliseum Complex outdoor arena.

But a presumptive positive case of COVID-19 on the Burton Complex staff left the event in limbo again. A hectic 24-hour followed, and the LHSRA moved the event to the West Cal Arena.

“We had worked so hard. We started talking with the LHSRA in April, and we never stopped trying,” said Jason Barns, executive director of the Burton Complex. “Then we got this other situation that came about. But regardless of what took place, I am still proud of my staff for all of their efforts they made to make this happen like the last eight years.

“We (all of the venues in the area) all worked together real well, and the West Cal Arena was able to step up, and hats off to them.”

“This event is so very important to our rodeo athletes from grades six through 12, and it would not have occurred were it not first for the due diligence of the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, Jason Barnes, and his Burton Complex staff to ascertain that the state finals did meet the ‘outdoor noncontact sport’ classification and help establish the proper parameters,” said Stephanie Rodrigue, state secretary of the Louisiana High School Rodeo Association.”

Rodrigue said she believes that it is the first time the LHSFR has competed in Sulphur since the mid-1980s.

“Once Burton was no longer viable as the host site, we are indebted to Adrian Moreno’s immediate offer to both host and acquire the seal of approval from the West Calcasieu Parish Community Center Authority,” she said.

“Mr. Moreno’s staff is going above and beyond to assure a safe and successful Finals 2020. Rodeo personnel, contestants and families are committed to social distancing and any other requisite procedures. Quite simply: we are immensely grateful.”

Like all of the Calcasieu Parish high school graduations celebrated at Sulphur High School last week, each participant was given four wrist bands for people to use to attend the event. All participants and attendees will have to adhere to social distancing measures and sign a waiver to attend the event. Rodrigue said face masks are not required but are recommended.

Other changes include the cancellation of several events usually held in conjunction with the state rodeo, such as the Extraordinary Kids’ Rodeo, the grand entry, victory laps, concerts and nightly campground gatherings.

The event started at 9 a.m. Tuesday with the first go-round followed by a 2-hour break before the second go.

Wednesday’s competition started at 9 a.m. with both rounds of girls and boys cutting, followed by both rounds of reined cow horse. The short go was expected to start at 1 p.m.