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26th Annual Southern Miss Coca-Cola Classic Rodeo Set for Feb. 18-19

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The “Greatest Show on Dirt,” otherwise known as the Southern Miss Coca-Cola Classic Rodeo hosted by The Department of Recreational Sports, is coming to Hattiesburg Feb. 18 and 19, 2011.

Raymond Whitehead, M.D., orthopedic surgeon with Hattiesburg Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, will serve as Grand Marshal of this year’s event. Dr. Whitehead isa native of Hattiesburg, whoreceived his medical degree at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham, Ala. He completed a general surgery internship and orthopedic surgery residency at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Ga., followed by a fellowship in sports medicine, arthroscopy and arthroscopic reconstructive surgery at the Orthopaedic Research of Virginia in Richmond, Va.

Each year at the rodeo cowboys and cowgirls show off their elite skills in barrel racing, calf roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, team roping, and bull riding. The top riders qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo which is held in Las Vegas, Nev. The Hattiesburg rodeo is a fundraiser for student scholarships and professional development.

“We are fortunate that the rodeo continues to be produced by Smith, Harper and Morgan Rodeo, the producers of the Dixie Nationals and provider of livestock to the National Finals Rodeo,” said Sid Gonsoulin, associate vice president for student affairs at Southern Miss.”Because of the quality and consistency of a professionally produced PRCA/WPRA rodeo, we have been able to provide scholarships annually to Southern Miss students.”

Lecile Harries, six-time Pro Rodeo Clown of the Year, will be making an appearance at the rodeo this year. Lecile, a 50-year rodeo veteran, works nearly 125 performances a year at the world’s biggest rodeos. He got his start as a bullfighter in the 1950’s and 60’s and helped transform the sport from thrill show to the skillful art it is today. He has also worked on various TV shows including a regular role on “HEE HAW” and movies like “The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James” and “W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings” with Burt Reynolds.

“Lecile’s comedic mannerisms, acts and jokes are copied by clowns and showmen across the globe,” declared Bob Lowe, retired director of Southern Miss Dining and Grand Marshal of the 18th Annual Southern Miss Coca-Cola Classic Rodeo. “For nearly half a century, Lecile’s bullfighting and comedic ability have saved many a cowboy and brought smiles and laughter to millions of people. He is truly one of rodeo’s legends.”

As usual, the Southern Miss Coca-Cola Classic Rodeo will be held at the James Lynn Cartlidge Forrest County Multi Purpose Center on Highway 49 South. Rodeo tickets are available at TJ’s Western Ware on U.S. Highway 49 in Hattiesburg. Tickets are $10 and all seats are reserved. 

The rodeo is sponsored by Coca-Cola, Southern Beverage, Comcast, B-95, McMullan Motors, Polk’s Meat Products, Keith’s Super Stores, Forrest General Hospital, Landry and Lewis Architects, Copy Cats Printing, The Hattiesburg American, and Southern Miss Recreational Sports.