By Wade Coggeshall
— CLERMONT — If this small community in western Marion County has a claim to fame, it’s its rodeo. In fact, it’s the oldest rodeo in Indiana and the second-longest running east of the Mississippi River.
This year’s Clermont Rodeo, the 63rd, almost didn’t happen.
Various groups have taken on the task of organizing the event over the years. This year no one stepped forward. The Clermont Lions Club, who’ve always hosted the rodeo at their park off of Tansel Road, decided to take on the responsibility to ensure the tradition would continue.
“The community has really come through,” said Linda Maynard, chair of the rodeo committee. “The folks we’ve talked to have very much been on board as far as sponsorships. We’ve been able to pay all our expenses. Everything we make now will benefit the Lions Club. It’s a win-win situation.”
Festivities are this Saturday. It starts with a parade, followed by a festival at Clermont Lions Club Park that includes vendors, music, food, and children’s activities. Brownsburg-based Christian recording artist Brianna Caprice will sing the national anthem.
The actual rodeo, which runs from 7:30 to 10 p.m., features more than 30 professional bull riders and 20 barrel racers from the Southern Extreme Bull Riding Association.
Advance tickets are $10 for adults or $6 for children ages 6 to 12, and are available from Clermont Lions Club members or by calling Maynard at 362-7592. Tickets the day of the event are $12 for adults or $8 for children ages 6 to 12. Children 5 and younger will be admitted free.
Maynard, who’s helping to organize the rodeo for the first time, thinks it’s lasted so long because of its strong community ties.
“It’s known for its small-town flavor. The community support from residents — not just Clermont, but Hendricks County — kind of crosses borders,” she said, noting that many of their sponsors are from Brownsburg and Avon in addition to the west side of Indianapolis.
Organizers are expecting between 800 to 1,000 people on Saturday at Clermont Lions Club Park.
“The whole town pretty much comes out for this,” Maynard said.
Traditionally the rodeo has been conducted earlier in the summer. This year it’s on the last day of the season.
“We thought that would make things easier as far as the weather,” Maynard said. “We’re hoping we have a nice day on Saturday.”
More information is available by searching for the Clermont Rodeo on Facebook.