More than 400 special needs students from school systems in five east Alabama counties attended the annual “Special Needs Rodeo” Thursday at the Chambers County Agricultural Center arena in LaFayette. The event is held prior to, and in conjunction with, the Chambers County Sheriff’s Rodeo each spring.
“We started this five years ago to give kids who might not otherwise attend a rodeo the opportunity to come and experience it for themselves free of charge,” said Chambers County Sheriff Sid Lockhart. “Once they’ve been here, they always want to come back.”
“However, there’s no way we could attempt something of this magnitude without the assistance of outstanding volunteers,” Lockhart added. “People from churches, civic clubs, schools and individuals freely give their time to insure a successful event.”
In addition to a petting zoo and the opportunity to see rodeo animals up close, activities included miniature train rides, bean bag toss, musical chairs, putt-putt golf and corn hole. A new attraction this year was horse-drawn wagon rides, courtesy of Wilkerson Carriage Service in Randolph County.
“Aubie,” official mascot of Auburn University, also made an appearance much to the delight of children attending the event.
“It warms your heart to see the joy and excitement displayed on the faces of these young students,” said Chambers County School Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge. “We are grateful to the Sheriff’s Office and the multitude of volunteers who make this event possible.”
Photos by Pamela Holloway and Jody Stewart.