DailyCommercial.com: Fruitland Park Founders Day Rodeo Saturday

"The most dangerous eight seconds in sports" is the show at the Fruitland Park Founders Day Rodeo, 7 p.m. at Windy Acres Farm. Photo by Rich Wise.

“The most dangerous eight seconds in sports” is the show at the Fruitland Park Founders Day Rodeo, 7 p.m. at Windy Acres Farm. Photo by Rich Wise.

From DailyCommercial.com:

More than 100 rodeo contestants, judges, scorekeepers, stock handlers, volunteers, and the ever-important bullfighters — sometimes referred to as rodeo clowns — will be on hand Saturday night to greet more than 1,000 fans expected at Fruitland Park’s Founders Day Rodeo at Windy Acres Farm on County Road 466A.

The ninth annual Fruitland Park Rodeo starts at 7 p.m. Rodeo organizer Bill Galbreath, who owns Windy Acres Farms, said more than 20 riders have entered “the most dangerous eight seconds in sports” and the stock of finely muscled behemoths is already in the pens.

The action won’t end there, Galbreath said. Five of the best barrel-racers in Florida — and five of the best horses — will vie in a winner-take-all quest for the biggest cash prize ever awarded at the event.

Galbreath said longtime local resident Brady Sellers started the Fruitland Park Rodeo nine years ago in conjunction with Fruitland Park Days, the city’s annual spring celebration.

This year the city adopted Founders Day to focus on Fruitland Park’s unique history.

Galbreath is part of that history: his mother and father founded Windy Acres Farms 66 years ago when he was born.

The former dairy, adjacent to the larger and better known Pine Ridge Dairy, soon to be the Villages of Fruitland Park, operated for almost half a century.

“My dad built the first rodeo arena here in 1961,” Galbreath recalls.

“Horse and cattle raising around here goes dates back to the 1800s,” he said. The annual rodeo at Windy Acres has become one of the region’s signature events.

Galbreath said Windy Acres’ rodeo arena can accommodate 1,100-1,300 people for a nighttime event and he hopes to fill every seat. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Children 1 and under are admitted free.

“We focus so much on youngsters, and without them these sports are going to fade away,” Galbreath said. Windy Acres has hosted the Leesburg Saddle Club since the early 1960s.

Still, most rodeo fans at Windy A c res are older adults. Last year, Galbreath counted two-thirds of the crowd as fans who were 50 or older.

He hopes renewed in ter est in Fruitland Park might help him appeal to more residents of The Villages this year. “This is a unique facility, it’s almost exactly the sort of arena you might have found out on the range 100 years ago,” Galbreath said.

“Only now we have seats, rest rooms, concessions and plenty of parking,” Galbreath said.

Advance tickets are on sale at Boot Barn in Fruitland Park and the Fruitland Park Café.

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