When the Franklin Rodeo gallops into town this weekend, it will bring nearly 300 professional cowboys and cowgirls with it.
They’ll be competing for more than $50,000 in prize money and looking to earn the title of Franklin Rodeo champion.
Several Tennessee natives are among those riding in Franklin.
Brothers Luke and Houston Herbert, College Grove, will be there, as will Josh Cragar and Madison McFall of Columbia, and Dalton Totty, Lewisburg.
For the Herbert brothers, it isn’t their first Franklin Rodeo. Following in the footsteps of their dad, Joey, a former bareback rider, Luke graduated from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. At the same time, Houston is a graduate of the University of Tennessee-Martin.
They co-own a fencing business, putting up agricultural and residential fences. Owning their business makes it easier to compete at rodeos.
“You work for yourself, with no time constraints,” Houston said. “In the summer we can rodeo all week if we want to.” He estimates the duo, who travel together, compete at between 50-75 rodeo performances a year, all over the East, in the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and the International Pro Rodeo Association (IPRA).
This year will be Houston’s fourth time competing in Franklin; in 2019, the last year of the rodeo, he won third place. It will be Luke’s third time riding in Franklin. Luke is 29 years old; Houston is 26. Each man has qualified for the IPRA Finals five times.
Another bareback rider, Josh Cragar from Columbia, is a veteran of his sport. The 35-year-old has qualified for seventeen IPRA Finals and is a four-time IPRA world champion.
He’s starting a new enterprise, flying cowboys to and from rodeos. Flying instead of driving saves contestants lost time at work and with their families, and helps them be more rested when they compete.
Flying to rodeos isn’t new, but Cragar would like to expand it. The more customers he has and the more flights he can take, costs will go down and it will be more feasible for more people.
Cragar has his pilot license and usually competes at the same rodeos he transports cowboys to.
Twenty-four states are represented among those several hundred contestants.
The Herbert brothers will compete in the Saturday night show. Cragar will ride on Friday night, as will Madison McFall, a barrel racer. Team roper Dalton Totty, Lewisburg, will make his run on Saturday night.
This year’s Franklin Rodeo takes place May 19-21 at the Williamson Co. Ag Expo Park, with shows starting at 7 pm nightly.
Tickets are $25 for adults and $12 for children, ages 12 and under. Standing room-only tickets will be sold after all reserved tickets are sold, for $7 each. Tickets can be purchased online (FranklinRodeo.com) or at the gate.