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‘Buckin’ on the River’ rodeo action returning to Savannah

Rodeo action from the 2019 “Buckin’ on the River” event in Savannah

(Ed. note: This online story has been changed from the July 15 print edition to reflect that Madison Ashe is the niece of Whit and Samantha Ashe, not daughter. Madison is the daughter of Rob and Megan Ashe.)

With the July 4 holiday now past and the heat and humidity of real west Tennessee summer taking over, the attention of many folks in the area is turning to what has become a very popular local summertime tradition – live rodeo action at the Hardin County Fairgrounds.
After being forced to cancel the 2020 Buckin’ on the River Rodeo due to the global pandemic, rodeo fans and organizers are excited for the 17th annual event this weekend at Hardin County Fairgrounds Arena in Savannah.
“Last year was a very tough year for all of us, but we are extremely happy for things to be back to where we can hold our event this summer,” said BOTR spokesman Ron Ashe. “I have no doubt that after missing out on being able to take in live rodeo action for a couple of years our fans in our extended area are going to turn out in droves.”
Some 150-175 competitors along with 3,500 to 4,000 rodeo fans are expected to be on hand Friday, July 16 and Saturday, July 17 with gates opening at 6 p.m., pre-event music by the Wayne Jerrolds Band set for 7 p.m. and rodeo action scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Piper Jones of Savannah is scheduled to sing the national anthem to get things off to a rousing start.
With major sponsors Jones Nissan, Hardin County Convention and Visitors Bureau, PCA, Tennessee River Resort District, Hardin County, and F&M Consulting, Buckin’ on the River is a dual-sanctioned P.R.C.A. (Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association) event, with cowboys from the Great Lakes and Southeastern Regions and throughout the country hoping to ride and rope their way to prize money and valuable points. In 2019, cowboys and cowgirls from at least eight states came to Savannah to show their skills.
Bareback riding is once again sponsored by Floyd and Sons with River Heights Restaurant, bringing fans the team roping competition. Tennessee River Investors sponsors the Saddle Bronc contest while Dodge Chicken Store expects to please rodeo fans with barrel racing.
Steer wrestling is sponsored by the City of Savannah, with The UPS Store bringing fans the calf roping event. Bull riding, always the final event and forever a crowd favorite, is again sponsored by Hardin Medical Center.
Crazy K Ranch is the bull fighter sponsor while the Pick Up Men are courtesy of American White Oak LLC. Outpost General Store makes the hospitality room possible as Circle A Ranch sponsors the out gate. Subway is a ticket sponsor while First Choice Farm/Lawn sponsors the tractor keeping the arena floor in peak condition.
Arena banners are courtesy of White’s Cleaners, Farm Bureau and Hardin County Bank. AG & N Ag Supply, Williams Lumber/River City, SMC Recycling, Johnson Construction and United Country make possible the chute gate while Wayne County Bank sponsors the roping box.
Emceeing the evening and keeping things running smoothly is the job of veteran rodeo announcer Jerry Todd. Sponsored by J. Hamm Company and appearing for the 11th time in the local rodeo, Todd has been in the business for over 35 years and spends 35-40 weekends per year on the road at various venues entertaining the fans in the stands.
Calling the action from high atop his impressive mount, Todd does a masterful job in keeping those in the stands educated, informed and entertained throughout the evening. Playing the part of a teacher, Todd gives the fans some rodeo facts as well as personal information about various contestants. He keeps the crowd informed during the various events, letting them know what is expected of the competitors and how things stand in the competition. The entertainer in Todd comes to the forefront as he interacts with the rodeo clowns and barrel men.
Hardin County rodeo fans will welcome Brian Patton, also known as “The Misfit Cowboy” to town as he makes his first-ever appearance at Buckin’ on the River as the specialty act. Brian is a cowboy from Epps, Louisiana, who has bridled a Brahman named Django. His entrance act sparks quite the reaction from those in the stands.
He has also lassoed a longhorn named Roscoe that he ropes and rides along with his trusty sidekick, Bandy the Rodeo Dog. The group puts on a family friendly wild west show with a modern flair guaranteed to keep you wanting more.
Patton, 40, is a farrier by trade. It is what his dad did on the side – in addition to being an agriculture teacher in West Carroll Parish. Like his father, Patton wears different hats. He is making more than horseshoes these days. He makes stirrups and spurs and specialty items out of metal and iron.
Now, there is also engraving. Personalizing his guns, gear, and gifts, his main focus remains traveling from arena to arena lighting up the dirt stage and the faces of the crowd. Patton also does preaching and motivational speaking.
“We are excited to have Brian come and be with us this year,” said Ron Ashe. “He has a really good show that we feel like our fans will enjoy.”
The 2021 Buckin on the River event is being held in memory of the late Lecile Harris from Collierville, Tennessee. Harris, 83, died in February 2020 after making his final performance at the 55th Annual Dixie National Rodeo in Jackson, Mississippi.
Known as the “Dean of Rodeo Clowns/Bullfighters,” Lecile performed at Buckin’ on the River multiple times over the years. He performed in about 140 rodeos per year in the United States, Canada, Europe and Africa. Harris was a four-time winner of PRCA Clown of the Year and was enshrined in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, the Bull-Riding Hall of Fame, Bull-Fighters-Legends.
Stock contractor 4L and Diamond S Rodeo of Summerville, Ga. are on hand for their 15th consecutive year of providing stock for the event. Multiple bulls that were ridden during the 2019 Buckin’ on the River went on to show their stuff in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo that was moved to Dallas in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions in Las Vegas.
Local cowboy Whit Ashe and his wife Samantha will be on hand to compete in the rodeo this year. Their 14-year-old niece Madison Ashe is giving an exhibition in barrel racing again this year.
Rodeo fans in attendance will have an opportunity to win a Corkcicle party basket courtesy of Main Street Pharmacy. A live radio remote takes place at AG&N Ag Supply in Adamsville Saturday morning before the show.
The mechanical bull will be on hand to once again challenge potential bull-riders in what is always a popular attraction for youngsters of all ages.
Returning to Buckin’ on the River for the fifth consecutive year in 2021 is the crowning of Miss Rodeo Tennessee and Miss Teen Rodeo Tennessee.
Morgan Reynolds coordinates the competition on Saturday involving horsemanship, fashion, and the interview process. The winners will be crowned Saturday evening at Buckin’ on the River. The current Miss Rodeo Tennessee will be on hand to crown the winner. The current Miss Rodeo Tennessee will compete at Miss Rodeo America at the PRCA finals in Las Vegas in December, while the new winner will make that trip in December of 2022.
Event organizers hosted their sponsors at a “Boots and Barbecue” dinner to show their appreciation for all of their help. The dinner was on Thursday, July 15 at the Hardin County Fairgrounds. The sponsor appreciation dinner was sponsored by F&M Consulting and Circle A Ranch.
Advance tickets are available from Subway at both Savannah locations, in Adamsville and in Pickwick; Jones Nissan in Savannah; AG&N Ag Supply in Adamsville and Wayne County Bank in Waynesboro. Tickets are also available at the gate starting at 6 p.m.
One difference this year is a change in ticketing for youngsters. Kids 9 and under are admitted free. Everyone 10 and older will be charged the adult price at the gate. Advance tickets are $5 less than at the gate.
“We made an adjustment this year and did away with the child’s ticket but increased the age that gets in free to make things simpler, but our prices will be the same as last year,” said Ashe. “As always, we try to keep it to where a family of four can go out for something to eat and a night of top-notch entertainment at a reasonable price.”
“For four of the past five years we have had one rainy night and one night with good weather and it hurt our crowd just a little but we are hoping the weather cooperates this year and the folks come out to see some great rodeo action,” he said.
“We have another excellent show in store this year and the cowboys and cowgirls are excited to show their stuff. We have the new bleachers for the fourth year which provides about 400 new seats and we also welcome folks to bring their own lawn chairs if they would like. We are extremely grateful to all the folks that come out to support our rodeo year after year,” he said.
The Savannah Rotary Club is handling the concessions, with all of the proceeds going to fund scholarships at Hardin County High School. Because of this, no outside food or drink is allowed inside the rodeo.
Vendors will be set up at Buckin’ on the River both Friday and Saturday nights.
“We never stop working hard to continue the momentum we have built over the past several years,” Ashe said. “We have been very blessed with our local sponsors again in 2021. Just as is the case every year, it would be impossible to hold an event of this magnitude without their generous support.”
Any business interested in getting involved with this 17-year Hardin County Rodeo tradition can contact Paige Ashe-McLean at 731-925-2983.


  1. martha hieronymus on July 16, 2021 at 7:44 pm

    Excellent story and especially since the individual events are sponsored by local merchants and you have given them credit for the sponsorship. Thank you for putting the information on line.

  2. Eric Mills on July 17, 2021 at 9:47 am

    Rodeo is condemned by nearly every animal welfare organization in
    North America due to its inherent cruelty. Rodeo has almost
    NOTHING to do with either agriculture or life on a working ranch.

    REAL working cowboys/girls never routinely rode bulls, or rode
    bareback, or wrestled steers, or barrel raced, or practiced calf roping
    (terrified BABIES) as a timed event. Nor did they put flank straps on the
    bulsl & horses, or work them over in the holding chutes with painful
    “hotshots,” kicks and slaps. The calf roping event alone should inspire
    anti-cruelty lawsuits around the country. Imagine the public outcry
    were pet dogs thusly abused.

    The United Kingdom, The Netherlands and Germany have all outlawed rodeos.
    Can the U.S. be far behind? Lest we forget, this godawful pandemic was
    HUMAN-caused, a direct result of our gross mistreatment and abuse of
    animals, both wild and domestic.

    Legislation should be introduced every year in every state until this
    scourge is wiped from the face of the earth. Until that happy day, BOYCOTT
    Follow the money.

  3. Peggy W Larson, DVM MS JD on July 17, 2021 at 11:33 am

    Animals should not be injured or killed for entertainment and that is what rodeo is.  It bears no resemblance to ranching.  I grew up on a cattle ranch in North Dakota and spent 8 years as a ranch veterinarian there.  My ranch clients did not ride bulls, speed rope calves or make their expensive horses buck.  Rodeo is not American “tradition”. 

      As a former bareback bronc rider, pathologist and large animal veterinarian, I have  both the  experience and  autopsy  proof that rodeo injures and kills animals. Dr. Robert Bay from Colorado autopsied roping calves and found hemorrhages, torn muscles, torn ligaments, damage to the trachea, damage to the throat and damage to the thyroid. These calves never get a chance to heal before they are used again. Meat inspectors processing rodeo animals found broken bones, ruptured internal organs, massive amounts of blood in the abdomen from ruptured blood vessels and damage to the ligamentum nuchae that holds the neck to the rest of the spinal column. As a  former  criminal lawyer, children that are exposed to and participate in animal abuse often grow up to abuse humans. I have seen children cry at rodeos when the calves are roped and slammed to the ground. It is time for this archaic rodeo  “entertainment”  to end.

  4. Peggy W Larson on July 19, 2021 at 11:17 am

    The effect of animal abuse on children should not be ignored. Many serial killers abuse animals before they kill humans. Furthermore, some rodeo events like mutton busting put the child in danger. Bubba Kirby, a 3 year old whose parents put him in the mutton busting contest, almost died after ingesting E. coli from the arena floor.

    It is time for rodeo to end.

  5. D J Martin on July 23, 2021 at 2:07 pm

    I’m no animal lover however I do believe in right and wrong. That being said we all see what the lawyer’s should step up and do for the defenseless! Profit from harmful practices, JUST WRONG JUSTIFY ASAP

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