MINT HILL, NC – Dust off your cowboy boots and grab your 10-gallon hat for the 5th Annual Mint Hill Rodeo!
On hiatus during the pandemic, the rodeo triumphantly returned to 8201 Bartlett Road last spring. This year’s event will take place in the same location on Friday, April 21, and Saturday, April 22. The 30+ acre site of the arena is generously donated by James and Judy McWhirter.
Guests who’ve attended the rodeo in the past can expect a familiar format featuring everything from PeeWees riding sheep to two nights of elite high school competition. The biggest rodeo in North and South Carolina, the event is an opportunity for cowboys and cowgirls to earn scholarship money and even place in National Competitions doing the sport they enjoy.
What’s expected to be different about this year’s even is its size. Lori Peyton, Chairman of the South Carolina High School Rodeo Association, is expecting about three times as many calf-roping contestants as last year. “She says this is the largest rodeo on their circuit and that everybody wants to come to Mint Hill,” says Historical Society Representative Becky Griffin.
To prepare for bigger crowds, the Historical Society has reconfigured its parking plans and ordered additional bleachers. Guests are also encouraged to bring blankets or folding chairs to set up between the bleachers and the arena. “We want everybody to have a view and be able to be in the bleachers,” explains Griffin. “That’s important to us. We don’t want just people; we want people who can see what’s happening in the arena.”
The rodeo would not be possible year after year without generous support from many local businesses and the Mint Hill community at large. The event’s main sponsor this year is once again Griffin Masonry, who not only funds the event but sends in a crew and equipment to help set up the arena and bleachers. “Our other big sponsor is Liberty Buick GMC,” says Griffin. “Liberty and Griffin Masonry – they both have a hometown connection. We know their people, and they know Mint Hill, and it’s great that these big companies are supporting us.”
Sponsors are crucial to the success of the rodeo simply due to the costs associated with putting it on. While the venue itself is donated by the McWhirters, the Historical Society has to prepare the arena with loads of creek sand for a soft landing, bring in the bleachers and rent the bulls for the competition. “Just those things alone are greater than $10k,” explains Griffin. “The rodeo goes on rain or shine, and if it rains, we could go in the hole. These people supporting us are making it possible for us to be successful even if the weather is bad.”
The rodeo is so beloved here in the Mint Hill community that it would be impossible to list every business and individual who contributes to the its success. “We have so much community support,” says Griffin. “Our program is printed free of charge by Kelly Office Solutions, and the Rodeo Association tells us it’s the best program they see all year. Almost every business in Mint Hill is featured in that program in some way. The Town of Mint Hill is a tremendous help to us mowing the field and providing porta-potties. ROTC from our local high school will help with parking. It is just a beautiful example of a community coming together.”
One local business gearing up early for the rodeo is Chick-fil-A Mint Hill. On Saturday, April 15, from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Chick-fil-A will host an afternoon of fun and games with an opportunity to meet some of your favorite rodeo riders and their horses. All kids dressed in western gear receive a free ice dream cone! From April 10 – April 18, you can enter to win one of four rodeo prize packs courtesy of Chick-fil-A, which include all day Saturday PeeWee and Junior Rodeo tickets, a Chick-fil-A Family Meal at the rodeo, and other assorted gifts from Chick-fil-A and the Mint Hill Historical Society. Register in person or online social media (Facebook or Instagram). Winners will be drawn on April 19.
The annual rodeo is a unique and family-friendly event, an important fundraiser for the Mint Hill Historical Society, and an important park of keeping Mint Hill’s history alive. Tickets are just $10 at the gate for adults and $5 for kids under 12 (cash only). The gates will open on Friday at 6:00 pm, two hours in advance of the main event at 8:00pm; Saturday the gates open at 9:00 am for a full day of entertainment starting with the PeeWees at 10:00 am ending with the main event at 8:00 pm. “This is just a world-class rodeo we’re having, and we’re excited that Mint Hill is part of that!” says Griffin.