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"It was all made from old oilfield pipe that they gave us," Campbell said. "It was all freebie stuff and we took whatever they had."

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Most of them, like Craig, spent their childhood at the arena and warmly recall the hard work and time that their parents put in to forming the MPRA and getting those early rodeos off the ground.

Amerson said the town also became a big part of the association's early success. The Puma Shoes Online Sale businesses painted their windows with a variety of rodeo scenes, employees dressed in western wear and most everyone turned out to watch the rodeo parade as it made its way through town. Just two years after the first rodeo, the Daily Tribune quoted President Leonard Ray Thompson as saying that over 6,000 fans attended the three night event.

Everyone listened in as two old cowboys searched 50 years of memories about the early days of the Mount Pleasant Rodeo Association (MPRA).

Amerson said one of the main reasons for the longtime success of the MPRA was Smith's faith in the newly formed group. "He took a chance on us when nobody else would," Amerson said.

While Roscoe Campbell, one of the original MPRA members, jokingly described the early days as just a bunch of "dumb ol' country boys coming together," the founders were dead set on bringing an organized rodeo to Mount Pleasant that could rival some of the best in the area.

Joyce and Rick Craig have been a big part of the association for several years. Mrs. Craig's father, Jack Harvey, was one of the original members and she continues to be an intricate part of the place where she grew up and became rodeo queen. In fact, her homemade Puma Alexander Mcqueen Women

The rodeo grew so large so fast that the MPRA began hosting a four night rodeo and added another set of bleachers on the north side of the arena. The group also hosted horse shows and youth rodeos for several years.

MPRA Directors Billy and Larry Thompson are also carrying on the tradition started by their dad, Leonard Ray. Billy Thompson said those early founders were committed to creating a rodeo that offered good family entertainment.

Mount Pleasant Rodeo looks back on 50 years

"Smitty" Smith said he remembers, "Working my butt off; we'd get off work from our regular jobs and then come out here and work until 9 or 10 at night." He and his wife, Edie, are still active members of the association.

was to borrow money from the First National Bank in order to purchase land on the Greenhill Road, the same site the new arena sits on today. And in April 1965, the group broke ground on the arena and those good ole' country boys were on their way to bringing one of the top rated rodeos in the region to their hometown. "Smitty" Smith, Jack Harvey, Jimmy Taylor, Wade Mitchell, Amerson, Campbell and a host of other members worked tirelessly to piece together an arena on little to no money in time to host their first rodeo.

Garrett, who also became rodeo queen, said she could still remember how worried her dad and the others always were on the first night of the rodeo, and how relieved they were when the seats started filling up.

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Laughter echoed throughout the small, cinder block building as faded newspaper clippings filled with photos of bucking bulls and rodeo clowns reverently passed from hand to hand.

"If I'm not mistaken, Mr. Bob Sandlin gave us our first $100, and then other people began to chip in," Amerson said.

"The Mount Pleasant Rodeo was always a big part of my summer from the late sixties through the seventies," Rester said. "My dad would buy box seats for every performance. It was always an awesome rodeo. I called it the community family reunion."

As the MPRA prepares to celebrate its half century mark during the annual upcoming rodeo on May 29 through 31, they recently brought some of the original founders together to reminisce about the association's early days. Over the course of the evening, they shared the stories of what began as little more than the dream of a bunch of cowboys who just liked to rope.

Several children and grandchildren of the original members joined in the recent stroll down memory lane. Many of them are continuing the legacy by serving as members of the MPRA or have served as members in the past.

"We weren't even through with the bleachers when Jerald told us he would come and put the rodeo on," Amerson said. "We were welding and working at night and it just kind of stemmed from there."

Most couldn't remember those who were there at the first few meetings in 1964. Amerson did, however, recall how the group began to organize and raise money by holding fundraisers at a small arena located on the north side of town. He said before long, several local businessmen also started helping them out.

memories of those early rodeos and what they meant to the town are part of the tradition that has continued for 50 years.

By early 1965, the association incorporated and began selling shares in the MPRA. The next step they took Puma Trainers With Bow

The MPRA hosted its first rodeo in August 1966 working right up until the last minute to complete the arena. Again, Amerson credited Jerald Smith and Wing Rodeo for believing in them.

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barbecue sauce has graced the brisket sandwiches sold in the concession stand over the last few years.

"It was a dream of mine too, being this close," he said. "I just like being here, and they all treated me good. I couldn't find no reason not to be here. We've always had what you're seeing."

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Jerald Smith said it was not a difficult decision to take a chance on the new association. The Wing Rodeo Company was also just getting off the ground. He said they all had the same vision of bringing a local rodeo to the area. And what began as taking a chance has turned into a 50 year partnership filled with respect and admiration.

"It was done on a wing and a prayer," said Jan Garrett, whose father Dwight Matthews was one of the first directors. "I can remember them saying years later 'Can you believe where we are now from when we started.' But they just wanted to have it so bad."

Bo Rester, former MPRA president and current vice president, said the Puma Shoes For Women New

"They wanted Mount Pleasant to be there," she said. "We were one of the only rodeos with four nights and we stayed full every night. And you could see them on Friday nights when the stands filled up; they were so proud."

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And in that same year, a small group of Mount Pleasant men had big plans of their own. They came together to create a rodeo association with no idea that it would span 50 years of family entertainment.

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"Remember when the bulls got out?" Rex Amerson, a founding member of the MPRA, asked his longtime friend. Muhammad Ali) won the world heavyweight championship, President Lyndon Johnson declared his War on Poverty and the Beatles took America and the Ed Sullivan Show by storm.

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