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June 27, 2014

Lions rodeo brings return of familiar face

DUNCAN — The Claud Gill Arena of the Stephens County Fair and Expo Center came alive with the thundering of horses’ hooves, flying dirt and the booming voice of a rodeo announcer last night.

The 34th annual Duncan Noon Lions Club Rodeo kicked off the night with a grand entry procession of horses. The rodeo runs until Saturday night.

The rodeo has maintained its history over the years, including a family night promotion for opening night and the popcorn popper.

Duncan Noon Lions Club member Gerald Leach has been popping the popcorn for hungry rodeo fans since he joined the club 50 years ago after returning to Duncan from Venezuela in the 1960s, where he was on assignment for four years for his job at Halliburton.

“I do it out of habit,” Leach said. “I just got started doing it because it needed to be done and now they expect me to do it every year.”

During his time with the Lions Club, he has participated in various service projects, seen an upgrade of the popcorn machine and been named Lion of the Year twice.

“I feel like I’m contributing to something,” Leach said.

Even some of the fans stay the same.

Tommy Roberts said he’s attended the rodeo since he moved to Duncan in the ‘90s and participated in rodeos as a contestant himself.

“I rode in the national finals in Oklahoma City in the ‘70s,” Roberts said. “I enjoy bull riding, I rode a bull called Tornado.”

Despite the relative routine of a rodeo show, some things changed throughout the years.

Charles Turney, among the longest-standing Lions Club members with Leach and longtime nacho-preparer for the rodeo, was unable to attend this year because of health reasons.

Rodeo Chairman Joe Henderson said this year’s rodeo brings the implementation of the $1 corn dog promotion, which benefits the Food For Kids program. Children who purchase a corn dog get a free ticket to Saturday night’s show.

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