ARCADIA — The 6th Annual Arcadia Fall Rodeo returns to DeSoto County this weekend.

The two-day, afternoon event starts Saturday at Mosaic Arena at (2450 N.E. Roan St.) with headlining event Bullfighters Only, a freestyle bullfighting team.

Freestyle bullfighting, not to be confused with bull riding, is a newer sport in the rodeo world that was inspired by the rodeo clowns who protect the bull riders, according to Maribeth Dunlap, executive director of the Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo, organizer of the fall rodeo.

“These folks will get in with the bull in a timed event,” Dunlap said. “They read the body language of the bull, using their skills to outmaneuver the bull ... no tools or weapons, just them and the bull.”

Dunlap said the freestyle sport is sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Winners of this weekend’s event will go on to compete in the National Finals Rodeo, put on by PRCA and held in Las Vegas in December.

“They do all kinds of leaps and acrobats over the bull,” Dunlap said, “this is kind of evolved into its own competition, where fighters show off their skills one on one with the bull. It’s all about reading the bull and its body language.”

What else to expect?

Spectators will see all their favorite traditional rodeo events − mutton bustin’, bareback bronc riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie down roping, barrel racing and bull riding.

“There’s no changes this year,” Dunlap said. “This is still a PRCA-sanctioned event. The contestants that participate in these rodeos compete for points. The winners will go to the PRCA National Finals Rodeo held in Las Vegas.”

As with every Arcadia All-Florida rodeo, the show will begin with a performance by the The Quadrille, a team of riders that perform “Square Dancing” on horseback at full speed.

What to bring if you’re going?

Comfortable shoes and comfortable clothes.

“They really don’t need to bring anything,” Dunlap said. “One thing with the new Mosaic Arena is that it provides a completely covered arena. It is fully within ADA compliance. There is an elevator to the mezzanine. There will be vendors for shopping and full concessions with snacks, food, beer and spirits.”

Are tickets still available?

Yes and Arcadia All-Florida has already sold more than last year.

“Last year, we sold 4,600 tickets for both days,” Dunlap said. “We have sold over 4,800 tickets so far (as of Oct. 16). So, we are getting a lot more attendance. This is also a huge walk-in event so we expecting to sell at least another 1,000 tickets at the gate.”

The Mosaic Arena at full capacity seats 7,813 people.

The gates open at 11 a.m. but attendees are invited to show up early and check out the different vendors. The show ends at 5:30 p.m.

Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo is a nonprofit organization that puts on the Fall Rodeo as well as the “Grandaddy of ‘Em All,” the Annual Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo, entering its 92nd year of action March 2020, among other events around the year.

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