FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — From cowboys to clowns, the Franklin Noon Rotary Club’s Franklin Rodeo is celebrating a milestone 70th year.
The Franklin Rodeo is Williamson County’s longest-running event, and Executive Director Bill Fitzgerald has been going to the Franklin Rodeo since he was six.
“It’s about God, country, family, and community. That’s the four things we build the rodeo around,” said Fitzgerald.
While the three nights of the rodeo are a lot of fun, it’s also a sanctioned event on the professional rodeo circuit. It’s also a massive fundraiser.
In the past 70 years, more than $3 million has been raised for dozens Williamson County non-profits, including GraceWorks Ministries.
Because of the Franklin Rodeo, the Franklin Noon Rotary Club is able to sponsor Fuel Bags through GraceWorks in Williamson County.
These important food bags go home every weekend with 715 students for 32 weeks in a year.
GraceWorks Ministries Director of Development Alicia Bell says the need is going up.
“This program began with teachers saying ‘our kids are hungry on Monday, and it’s hard for us to get their attention if we just need to make sure they eat,’” said Bell.
Franklin Noon Rotary President Patrick Baggett says their ability to help with programs like GraceWorks is tied to the success of the community’s involvement with the Franklin Rodeo.
“Our focus is hyper local. We want to make sure rodeo dollars are going to help people in need in our community,” said Baggett.
The Franklin Rodeo is a family tradition for many who fill the Williamson County Ag Center every May, making it the largest rodeo in the state.
Some international visitors even plan their trips around this piece of Americana.
Franklin Rodeo Week kicks off with a parade through Downtown Franklin at noon May 11 and the rodeo begins Wednesday, May 15.
This year the Franklin Noon Rotary Club is also starting a Rodeo Fan Club, and if you would like to learn more about attending this year’s event visit www.franklinrodeo.com.