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62nd annual Cracker Day Rodeo opens Friday at Lee County Posse Arena

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Jan 25, 2023

Action from an earlier rodeo at the Lee County Posse Arena, host site of the upcoming Cracker Day Rodeo. FILE PHOTO

The 62nd annual Cracker Day Rodeo — one of the oldest annual events in North Fort Myers — will return to the Lee County Posse Arena this weekend.

Set for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 27-29, the rodeo pays tribute to the tradition of working ranchers moving cattle throughout the state.

Sherry Groff, arena president, said they lucked out with Hurricane Ian as the arena off Bayshore Road was just far enough away from the river.

“We had the bleachers lifted up and we had to weld them back in place. But aside from that, all we had were some limbs down,” Goff said, as opposed to Hurricane Irma in 2017 which forced cancellation of the event after it twisted the scoring tower. “We’re going good this year and we’re ready.”

The youth rodeo will happen on the first night on Friday beginning at 6 p.m., with the regular rodeo taking place on Saturday at 6 p.m. (with slack happening for barrel racers at 8 a.m.) and Sunday at 2 p.m., following Cowboy Church at 10 a.m.

The rodeo on Friday will feature the youth-oriented events such as barrels, breakaway roping, pole bending and goat tying for all competitors up to age 17.

The open rodeo will take place Saturday night and Sunday afternoon with slack happening Saturday at 8 a.m., where the barrel racers, team ropers and others compete for the money, but are not in the formal rodeo.

The events at this rodeo tend to be a little different. There is still bull riding, calf roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing, but there are also unusual but popular events such as the Buddy-Pick-up and the new cowgirl trifecta, where they have to breakaway rope a calf, race barrels and tie a goat, all in the same event.

There also will be more than 20 vendors selling everything from cowboys hats to Mexican food.

The rodeo serves as the biggest fundraiser for the arena, a non-profit organization which was founded in 1960 and has survived as an all-volunteer group that gets no financial support from any government entity.

“Last year was our biggest year ever as far as attendance and fundraising. This event pays the bills and insurance and everything else that needs to be done to go another year,” Groff said.

Admission for adults is $25, $10 for children 12 and under and free for those 5 and under. Parking is $5. Military and first responders get in for $20.

Lee County Posse Arena is at 17401 Palm Creek Drive,

For more information, visit <a href=“http://leecountyposse.com” rel=“noopener” target=“_blank”>leecountyposse.com</a>.