FRANKLIN, TENN. (May 13, 2013) – The Franklin Rodeo has always been in the business of giving back. Ever since it began 64 years ago, by the Franklin Noon Rotary Club, proceeds from the rodeo have gone to benefit the community of Franklin and Williamson County.
The grand total of donations since 1950 is $2.4 million, says rodeo executive director Bill Fitzgerald. In the early years, rodeo money helped pay for college scholarships to medical, dental and nursing schools, helping to bring native Franklinites back to town as professionals in the medical field when their studies were over. Monies also bought band uniforms and library books for the public school. In 1950, the Franklin Review Appeal printed, “Not only will the reader have the time of his life (at the rodeo), but he is assured that his sixty cents (admission) will be spent wisely – adequate uniforms for the FHS band.”
Band uniforms aren’t on the list anymore, but the Noon Rotary Club still gives back. In 2012, eight organizations received funding from rodeo profits from the club. The Breast Health Center at Williamson Medical Center, the Boys and Girls Club of Franklin, academic and music arts programs at Williamson County high and middle schools, college scholarships, the rodeo team at the University of Tennessee at Martin, the J.L. Clay Senior Center, Habitat for Humanity, and the Williamson County 4-H Club all were funded through rodeo proceeds.
The work done by the Noon Rotary Club in hosting the rodeo is entirely volunteer, and Fitzgerald estimates that thousands of hours, plus Rotarians’ skills and resources, are donated. Seeing the community benefit makes the time and work worthwhile, he says. “Rotary’s motto is ‘service above self,’” he said. “When the rodeo is successful and we’re able to give back to the community, it makes the long hours worth it.”
And for every horse and bull that bucks at the rodeo, “bucks” are flowing to the community.
This year’s Franklin Rodeo is May 16-18 at the Williamson Co. AgExpo Center. Tickets are $17 for adults and $10 for children ages 12 and under, and can be purchased online at FranklinRodeo.com or at the gate. For more information, visit FranklinRodeo.com or call 615-RODEO-11.