BELTON, Texas — Independence Day weekend was a big deal here in the Fort Hood community, and it all kicked off with Military Appreciation Night at the Belton Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rodeo July 1.
Hosted at the Belton Expo Center, the 97th Annual 4th of July PRCA Rodeo began with a night dedicated to thanking those in military service.
Prior to the rodeo activities was a Fort Hood VIP dinner, hosted by the Belton Chamber of Commerce.
“I remember telling myself a long time ago anytime I got to the front of the room, to thank the most important people we have, and tonight that’s you,” Jay Taggart, chairman of the military relations committee, said. “We’re very honored to have so many of our military, many of their children and their families from III Corps and Fort Hood, and many of our friends have just down the way (with the) Army Futures Command and all of them, some of them even live in this area, but all of them are very, very important to the army, and to this nation.”
Representing Fort Hood leadership was Col. Chad R. Foster, commander of U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Hood.
“Any chance we got to thank the local community, the greater Fort Hood Community, great counties like Bell, and great towns and communities like Killeen and (Belton) … anytime we get a chance to say thank you back to the community is an opportunity we need to take advantage of,” Foster remarked. “On behalf of the commanding general and command sergeant major of Fort Hood, and on behalf of all the great active duty military members that are here tonight and family members, and I know a large number of retirees and other folks that are associated with our US military that are here this evening, thank you to the great town, community of Belton, (and) to the great state of Texas, for being so warm and welcoming and supportive of us and of this great country.”
Following the VIP dinner, the rodeo began with the national anthem performed by Sgt. Kiari Mhoon, 1st Cavalry Division Band, with members of the 1st Cav. Horse Detachment showcasing the nations colors.
Favorite events of the rodeo included the “Mutton Bustin,” a specialty event where young children compete to stay on a sheep the longest; “Breakaway Roping,” which featured female horseback riders roping a calf in the quickest amount of time; and the classic favorites of saddle bronc and horseback riding, as well as bull riding, which are all events featuring riders attempting to stay on a horse or cattle for eight seconds with graded demonstrated skills.
The 9th Annual Belton 4th of July PRCA Rodeo ran from July 1-3, with events coordinating with local 4th of July celebrations. The next PRCA rodeo events will be featured at the Central Texas State Fair in Belton Sept. 2-5.