Rodeo means big bucks for fire department

Published 7:19 am Thursday, February 21, 2008

By Staff
Sen. Bob Martin Center to host event Friday-Saturday
Managing Editor
The rodeo may come and go this weekend, but the benefits will last all year long, say members of the Old Ford Volunteer Fire Department.
The money raised during the Survivor Series Rodeo on Friday and Saturday will be used to pay the annual mortgage payment on the department’s fire station and fund other expenses that aren’t covered by the fire-tax revenues it receives.
The department first started holding an annual rodeo 15 years ago at the old Beaufort County Fairgrounds behind Lee Chevrolet on U.S. Highway 264 West. When the Sen. Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center opened, the volunteers moved the date up to earlier in the year and changed the venue to outside of Williamston off of U.S. Highway 64 West.
The combination has proved to be a winner for both the center and the fire department. The 2,400-seat indoor Bob Martin Center is booked nearly every weekend, but rarely is full, said Durward Taylor, the manager of the facility.
Advance tickets are on sale at Pecheles Ford/Toyota and Washington Marine &Sporting Center in Washington and at the Bob Martin Center. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children ages 3 to 12. Evening shows are set for 8 p.m. both nights.
If the past is any indication, the events Friday and Saturday evenings will be sellouts according to Frankie Buck, a firefighter and person who is spearheading the event this year. The 1 p.m. show Saturday will draw a smaller crowd, but it’s designed so children can get up close and personal with the cowboys and the livestock.
The money raised by the rodeo is key for the department, said Roberson, a former chief.
And money is an issue. The 30-person department was recently given two grants by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but the local department will have to match five cents on the dollar. One grant will pay for a new $250,000 fire truck and the other will pay for $100,000 worth of emergency equipment.
The Old Ford department covers a 6-mile radius around the headquarters that extends to the Martin County line and south to the Washington city limits.
For more information, call (252) 946-9780.