Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cattle Drive Through Okeechobee

American Cowboy Day Celebration In City Of Okeechobee

OKEECHOBEE, FL ­- Normally reserved for vehicular traffic, State Road 70 in Okeechobee will be the scene of a cattle drive from Flagler Park East to the Okeechobee County Agri-Civic Center on Saturday, July 26 beginning at 10:00 a.m.
Spectators will see Okeechobee's "Big Boss", Pete Clemons, lead local ranchers carrying flags as they drive some fifty head of cattle down the three-and-a-half mile stretch of road.

The arrival of the cattle at the Agri-Civic Center will kick off a busy day of activities there, including a big Ranch Rodeo with area ranches competing for the top two rankings and a chance to participate in the Florida Ranch Rodeo in Kissimmee the first weekend in October.

"Many area ranchers will compete for bragging rights as to whose team is the best," says Matt Pearce, Cattlemen's Association president. "The events are exciting, and they show the entire community the kinds of basic skills that keep our ranches going."

Some of the real-life ranch activities in the competition will include ranch doctoring, bronc riding, wild cow milking, team branding and a stampede race. The Ranch Rodeo will be open to spectators without charge, sponsored by the Okeechobee Cattlemen's Association and local merchants through donations to help defray expenses. The Ranch Rodeo events are scheduled to begin inside the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center at 2:00 p.m. that afternoon.

Other activities after the Cattle Drive will include an 11:00 a.m. Backyard BEEF B-B-Q contest, Florida cowboy storytelling, whip popping demonstrations, art by the Cowboy Artists Association of Florida, various children's events, plus food, entertainment and fun for the whole family sponsored by Okeechobee Main Street.

The events are being held as a part of the National Day of the American Cowboy, proclaimed by President George W. Bush in 2005 for the fourth Saturday in July. Last year's event in Okeechobee was the first such celebration east of the Mississippi.

Okeechobee's Main Street will coordinate the many National Day of the American Cowboy festivities outside the arena, to help celebrate the proud heritage of Okeechobee's cattlemen and the contributions made by Florida cowboys and cowgirls to the cattle industry nationwide.
"Main Street considers July 26 as a Heritage Festival for the cattle industry," says Toni Doyle, executive director of Main Street.  "Our cattlemen are an important part of the history and growth of this community. We encourage everyone to participate in the day's festivities."

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