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66th annual SLE Rodeo rides into Montgomery


The annual Southeastern Livestock Exposition Rodeo returns to Montgomery this weekend. The event is in its 66th year and will take place from March 17-19 at Garrett Coliseum. Featured in the 2023 lineup are cowboy exhibitions, performances, livestock exhibits, a parade and a concert.

“This is a professional rodeo. So, the contestants that you see will be professional athletes that make their living doing rodeo,” said SLE president Frank Ellis. “We’ll start off with bareback riding. We have saddle riding. We have bull riding… You can come to Garrett Coliseum and see some of the best cowboys and cowgirls in the world competing right here.”

Ellis said the rodeo is not only a good time, but the event also brings in big bucks to Montgomery County. “We had an economic impact study done last year,” said Ellis. “We found out that we bring in over $1M to Montgomery County and the River Region each year.”

The Alabama Cattlemen’s Association hosts the rodeo each year to promote agriculture. SLE president Frank Ellis said this is one of the biggest industries in Alabama. “People need to know where their food comes from,” said Ellis. “And basically, agriculture is what drives our whole economy.”

The SLE president said more than 26,000 people came to the Southeastern Livestock Exposition Rodeo last year. And this year is expected to be even bigger. “Last year, we sold out Garrett Coliseum for the first time in probably 25 years,” said Ellis. “So, we’re expecting another sale-out on Saturday night. The ticket sales are really going well. We also expect a big crowd on Friday night.”

Ellis said a big part of the rodeo for the SLE is being able to give back to the community. “We’re a non-profit organization. So, when you buy a rodeo ticket, your money is going to support agriculture in the state of Alabama. All the money we take in goes right back out,” he explained. “Our mission statement says we’re going to promote agriculture by providing opportunities for youth who participate in our stock shows, our livestock judging competitions and our youth rodeos,” said Ellis. “Last year, we paid out over $79K in scholarships to those kids. That’s something we’re really proud of.”

The SLE president says rodeo participants also get money. “What makes our rodeo great this that we paid out over $157K last year to our contestants in prize money,” he said. “And we’re just taking the Southeastern Livestock Exposition Rodeo to the next level.”

Ellis said there’s a big finished planned for the end of this year’s event. “At the end of the rodeo, we have something called Ultimate Bull Fighters. One guy will be in the arena, and they’ll turn loose a Mexican fighting bull. That guy will try to see how close he can get to the bull,” said Ellis. “Sometimes the bull wins, and sometimes the bull fighter wins.”

Get tickets and see the lineup for the 2023 Southeastern Livestock Exposition Rodeo here.

Baillee Majors is the Morning Edition host and a reporter at Alabama Public Radio.
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