Cultural mainstay returns to the Ag Center
The Southern Rodeo Association’s equivalent of the Super Bowl comes to the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher, featuring 108 riders across eight events: bareback, saddlebronc, bull riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, and breakaway roping.
With the big weekend just around the corner, Bold Life reached out to Alex Brooks, a rodeo veteran who specializes in team roping. He and his partner, Canadian-born Cody Mousseau, will enter the finals as the third-ranked team-roping duo in the SRA standings.
Could you talk about your rodeo background? How did you become involved with the SRA?
Alex Brooks: I began [rodeo] about 15 years ago. It was a family deal for me, and I’ve team roped all my life. [The SRA] is a small association close to where I live. I didn’t have to travel far to go to [events], so it was convenient. I grew up in Cleveland, North Carolina. And now I live in Pageland, South Carolina.
How did team roping become your specialty? Can you describe what the event consists of?
I grew up around it. [Team roping] is the only event at the finals that features two people. One person ropes the head, the other ropes the feet. This year, I’ve mainly roped with Cody Mousseau. He’s originally from Canada, but recently moved down here and got married.
What does the SRA schedule look like leading up to the finals?
It’s a small circuit. We probably go to 15 or 20 rodeos to qualify for the finals. The top 12 in each event get to go to the big weekend.
How many times have you been to the finals?
I’ve attended it the last 12 years or so. They’ve been held in Fletcher for the past seven or eight years. Everyone who goes there rodeos together, and we all hang out for the weekend. Everyone looks forward to it. It’s the same people we compete with all year, so there’s a lot of camaraderie. … There’ll be 12 contestants in each event, like I said, which means there will be 24 contestants in the team roping event. As far as spectators go, Saturday night is usually the most popular.
Do any memories from past finals stand out to you?
I won the association in 2017-’18. I’ve won the average there a couple of times.
Why should people come check out the finals?
They can walk around and meet all the contestants. People can talk to us, get autographs, and pet the animals. It’s a family atmosphere that’s fun for everybody.
What’s the biggest misconception the general public has about rodeo culture?
By far the biggest misconception about our culture that outsiders have is the treatment of animals. Most people believe that animals are treated inhumanely, when the truth is the exact opposite. Competitors and stock contractors treat their animals with respect and always puts their needs first. After all, our way of life can’t go on without them.
In terms of safety, what are some of the most important rules
Rodeo is a tough and dangerous sport. Always check your equipment before using it and make sure everything is in good condition. In events that allow safety equipment (i.e. bullriding, bareback, saddlebronc), be sure to use it. Animals are unpredictable, so always be thinking ahead. Keeping yourself and the animals uninjured is the most important thing.
The Southern Rodeo Association Finals happen Friday, Nov. 1 through Sunday, Nov. 3 at McGough Arena at the WNC Agricultural Center (1301 Fanning Bridge Road, Fletcher). Gates open at 7pm Friday and Saturday and 1pm Sunday. Tickets are $15/adult, $8/child in advance; $17/adult, $10/child at the gate. For more information, see srarodeo.com or wncagcenter.org.