LAST year was about bringing rodeo back to Ballarat. This year is about grabbing the bull by the horns.
The Southern Cross Rodeo Circuit took over management of the event in 2013 after it disappeared in 2012.
The cowboys and cowgirls will be back at the polocrosse fields at the Ballarat Airport for a bigger, better Ballarat Rodeo on March 22.
“There are 30 rodeos across Victoria each summer but Ballarat has the potential to be one of the bigger ones,” committee member and competitor Teresa Jones says.
“We run the event as a fundraiser for Riding for the Disabled and Beyond Blue, and last year we had a good number of entries. This year we’ve had a much bigger response: bigger numbers and bigger names. We’re expecting about 200 competitors.
“I think last year people might have been waiting to see how it went. This time we’ll have some of the best in the country, including some Australian champions and all the Victorian ones.”
The program will include bull riding, saddle broncs, bare backs, steer wrestling, steer roping, ladies breakaway and ladies barrel race. There will also be junior pony buck jumps and junior bull riding.
The feature event, though, is the team roping.
Apart from a host of competitors coming from across the country, there will be more than a few from the Ballarat region. These included Miss Rodeo Australia Mallory Doyle who will contest the barrel racing, and Australian champion bare back rider Jason Gorsuch from Meredith.
Ms Jones says the face of rodeo is changing, moving away from the old cowboy stereotype.
“They come from all walks of now. Some of the bull riders are surfies,” she says.