In a cloud of heat and dust, the big white rig rolled to a stop beside me. A pretty blonde mom, I guess, was behind the wheel, and dad was kicked back riding shotgun. In the back seat were three sets of eyes, wide with excitement, two kids and a Corgi. Mom rolled down the window and over the grind of the Peterbilt truck, I smiled and yelled, “You made it.” With eyes glistening, she said, “We’re here. We’re finally here.”
This family had been traveling five days from Canada to land in Lebanon at the James E. Ward Ag Center for the National Junior High Finals Rodeo.
“I’m very proud the Junior High Division of the National High School Rodeo Association chose to come to our town with this awesome event. Nearly 900 campers and 1,031 contestants – sixth through eighth graders – moved into the fairgrounds. Oh, and their horses, too, more than 1,200 of them. But I’m most proud of our community and the enormous crowd of volunteers who pitched in to make this happen. Teachers, farmers, county employees, students, family members, elected officials, animal lovers and retirees volunteered from as far away as Mississippi, Alabama and all across Tennessee. More than 150 individuals worked non-stop for 67 hours checking in contestants and horses, then around the clock for a week providing assistance to rodeo officials and our visitors. They all pitched in, some working multiple shifts and extended hours, sleeping in their vehicles and their own campers, to be present, if needed. It was simply awesome,” said Debbie Joines, rodeo volunteer coordinator.
From all of us here at the Ward Ag Center, no event is possible without the support of community partners coming together for a common goal. Many thanks to WEMA, Wilson County Sherriff’s Department, TDOT, Wilson County Promotions, Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber of Commerce, Wilson County Tourism and Visitors Bureau, Mt. Juliet Noon Rotary Club, Kroger, Publix, Tennova Healthcare-Lebanon, Southern Bank, Wilson Bank & Trust and Tri Green Equipment for making this event possible.
It is the collective of volunteers, partners and community support that makes Wilson County the place to be.
Larry Tomlinson, Director
James E. Ward Agricultural Center