JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Grab your boots, hats, and facemasks! The largest rodeo east of the Mississippi River kicks off Friday at the state fairgrounds.
The 56th Annual Dixie National Livestock Show and Rodeo will begin Friday, January 22, and runs through Wednesday, February 17.
Last year, the event saw 130,000 visitors and generated $20 million into the local economy and organizers hope to top those numbers this weekend.
Despite the pandemic forcing other cities to cancel the event, Miss. Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson says the show will gallop on here.
“We’re excited,” Gipson said. “A lot of the events are outside and we have a lot of safety precautions we’re following.”
The state’s agriculture department established the following protocols to comply with CDC and Mississippi State Department of Health guidelines:
- The Mississippi Department of Agriculture (MDAC) has designated a Safety Officer to ensure safety and health protocols are being observed.
- All employees, vendors, and volunteers will wear masks covering their nose and mouth at all times while indoors, and outdoors when social distancing with those outside their household is not possible. Masks may be removed while seated while eating or drinking.
- All employees will be screened, including temperature checks, as they report to work for the day. Employees who fail the screening will follow MDAC protocols for quarantine and testing but will not be allowed to work that day.
- All seats in the Mississippi Coliseum along with handrails and other commonly touched surfaces will be sanitized before and after each rodeo performance.
- All public bathrooms will be routinely sanitized throughout the rodeo performances.
- Six-foot markers to establish social distancing will be placed on the ground at the box office and concession stands.
If you’re attending the Dixie National Rodeo, these spectator guidelines with be enforced by security:
- Maintain a six-foot social distance from those not in your family group, especially at concession stands and lines.
- Individuals should not gather in groups larger than 10 individuals at any given time.
- Tickets are available in groups of no more than four seats to a group, maintaining six feet social distance between groups.
- Doors will open 90 minutes prior to showtime to avoid long lines.
- Spectators who remain for the concert following the rodeo will need to remain in their seats. Spectators will not be allowed onto the Arena floor of the Coliseum due to capacity limitations and inability to social distance.
- Spectators are to abide by the designated entry and exit locations.
Check out these highlights of last year’s show:
New this year is a Dixie National Color Bonanza and Mule Show, an Expo and Antique Tractor Show, a Cowboy Up Blood Drive plus a Dixie National Steakhouse.
Shows begin at 8:00 a.m. each day and features Palomino, Pinto, American Ranch Horses, and Mules.
You can expect live performances by The Oak Ridge Boys, Parker McCollum, Moe Bandy, John Conlee, Sawyer Brown, Justin Moore, and Riley Green. Families can also enjoy a variety of safari animals from McLain Lodge’s petting zoo.
Commissioner Gipson, who turned 44 in December, says he’s been to every Dixie National Rodeo since he was old enough to walk.
“It’s really a part of who I am. The atmosphere is great, there’s good entertainment,” Gipson said. “As a kid, I remember coming and always wanting a weaser toy... we couldn’t afford it at the time, but now I’ve got my weaser,” Gipson laughed.
Cowboys and cowgirls will compete for over $100,000 and Gipson said many young people use the event as a stepping stone in their careers.
“Some return to the farm, some get scholarships, and others go on to do amazing things, but I love encouraging them and people to support Mississippi’s agriculture.”
Tickets can be purchased here or at the Coliseum Box Office.