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It won’t rain out their rodeo

After inclement weather washed out most of last year’s Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo, city officials have been hard at working taking steps to make sure the show goes on this year — rain or shine.

Don Childre, Opp director of planning, said this year’s rodeo will feature a state-of-the-art musical stage that will include a roof and other features to ensure the performance goes on regardless of weather. In 2008, headliner acts Joe Diffy and Craig Morgan did not take the stage because of concerns about electrical damage to their instruments and equipment.

“In previous years, we’d used a stage that was made of metal and it was dangerous to use in a storm because of the threat of electrocution,” Childre said. “This year, the stage will be hauled in on an 18-wheeler and it will unfold like a Transformer. It will be a matter of just pressing a button and letting the hydraulics go to work and it will unfold into shape.

“It has a top on it, so it’s going to be fully weather proof. We shouldn’t have any problems like we had last year.”

This year’s rodeo is slated for Sat., April 4, and Sun., April 5, and Childre said the city is already hard at work publicizing the annual event. The rodeo, which features such events as rattlesnake races, has become synonymous with the city itself, he said.

“I was in Seattle a few years ago and there was a group of people I was talking with,” he said. “They asked me where I was from and when I said Opp, one of them said, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve heard of that. They’ve got the rattlesnake rodeo down there.’ I could tell you several other examples. It’s an event that has really helped put Opp on the map.”

This year’s headliner entertainers include Jeff Bates, a national county music star who has had hit songs like “One Second Chance” and “Don’t Hate Me For Loving You.” Nashville newcomer and rodeo veteran Anna Garrott and local group “The Springs” of Enterprise will also perform. Gates will open at Channel-Lee Stadium on Sat., April 4, at 8:30 a.m. and Sun., April 5, at noon.

There is currently a viewing area set up on the sidewalk outside Opp City Hall, where fans can check out some of the rattlesnakes that will appear in this year’s rodeo. The animals are in locked cages and there is lighting at night.

“We’ve got about 40 snakes in there now,” Childre said. “All in all, they’re bigger than in previous years. We’ve got some real large ones in there now, in the neighborhood of 12 pounds and close to six feet long.”

For more information on the rodeo, call the city of Opp at 493-7840 or visit the rodeo’s Web site at www.rattlesnakerodeo.com.