After a long absence, the World’s Toughest Rodeo returns to Hara Arena on Friday and Saturday, March 8-9. Much has changed in that time.
“It’s not like an old rodeo,” said Justin Rumford, 31, the 2012 professional rodeo Clown of the Year. “They’re more like a rock show. They’ve got pyro, they crank up the music and really put a show on. It’s very entertaining.”
Gena Cox, a trick rider from Germantown, will be participating in the rodeo with her performing partner Brandon Perdue.
“I do a lot of different stuff, but I’m doing mostly trick riding at Hara Arena,” the 28-year-old Franklin native said. “I’ve been working with my partner Brandon about two years, and he’ll be with me. We do some tricks similar to what the pairs figure skaters do with the lifts, but instead of on ice skates it’s on a running horse. I don’t know anyone else that actually does that.
“Rodeo is not as big as it once was, but back in the day it used to be bigger and there were a lot more trick riders,” Cox said. “There just aren’t that many of us anymore, but there are still some pretty big shows out there.”
Her work with horses and bulls takes her all over the country, but the upcoming rodeo at Hara Arena will be the first time Cox has showcased her skills in her own backyard in years.
“That never, ever happens,” she said. “I can’t remember the last time I trick rode anywhere close to home. It has to have been at least five or six years. I sign autographs for thousands and thousands of people every year. They get pictures and they get to see me ride, but my friends and family don’t really get to see it. All they’ve seen are pictures and videos, so it is pretty special for me to be here.”
It’s also been close to a decade since the World’s Toughest Rodeo was last at Hara. Organizer Dave Morehead of Iowa-based Three Hills Rodeo is hopeful rodeo fans will have fond memories of the long-running event.
“We were doing the World’s Toughest Rodeo in Dayton clear back in 1987, but it’s been quite some time since we’ve been back there,” Morehead said. “We were there for close to 20 years, so there’s brand recognition for it. I hope people that used to go will remember what it was like and bring their kids.”
HOW TO GO
What: The World’s Toughest Rodeo
Where: Hara Arena, 1001 Shiloh Springs Road, Trotwood
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 8-9
Cost: $20, $27, $37 and $57 (VIP). Children younger than 12 half off except for VIP tickets
More info: (937) 278-4776 or www.haracomplex.com