By Zirconia Alleyne
The Christian County Cattleman’s Lone Star Rodeo has been drawing families to the grandstands for 18 years, but for three local siblings, their place isn’t in the seats; it’s in the arena, atop horses.
Paige Stallons, 19, Aaron Stallons, 17, and Bethany Stallons, 14, will compete in the annual Lone Star Rodeo August 14 and 15. They have been riding horses as long as they can remember. Paige and Aaron got their start in the rodeo scene 10 years ago when their parents, David and Becky Stallons, enrolled them in the 4-H horse club.
“We’ve always had horses and our kids grew up with horses,” said David, a former team roper. “We had looked to get the kids more involved into different sports, and the kids really enjoyed the horses.”
Many of the children in the horse club were also competing in the Kentucky Junior Rodeo Association, so the Stallons decided to give it a try.
“We had some friends who had done it in the past and helped get them started in roping and barrel racing,” David said. “As they got older, we started going to roping and barrel racing clinics.”
Paige found her niche in barrel racing, pole bending and goat tying. Aaron started with dummy roping and goat tying. Bethany, who was 4 at the time, watched from the sidelines but was more than ready to hop in once she started kindergarten. Since then, the teens have competed in more than 100 rodeos.
“There’s no telling (how many rodeos they’ve been in),” the mom laughed. “The kids have made many trips to nationals. This is our seventh trip to the junior high national finals.”
Paige, a student at Murray State University, started competing in college rodeos when she graduated from Hopkinsville High School. She recently held titles for Kentucky Jr. High All-Around Cowgirl, Kentucky Jr. Rodeo All-Around Cowgirl, and All-Around Cowgirl at the Southern Tennessee All-Star Rodeo to name a few. Last year, she was a scholarship recipient from the Christian County Cattleman’s Association Lone Star Rodeo.
Sometimes, she competes against Bethany in breakaway roping or Aaron in barrel racing. Paige said it pushes her to do better when her brother and sister are in her category.
“Usually, I would have a faster time if I ran after they did because that was a little bit more motivation to come back and beat them just to say I did,” she chuckled.
Bethany, a student at HHS, competed in the Kentucky Jr. High Rodeo nationals in Des Moine. Last year, she won the Bowling Green Lone Star Rodeo and happened to be the youngest contestant there.
Aaron, an HHS senior, was named reserve champion calf roper and champion heeler at the Southern Tennessee All-Star Rodeo. In July, he competed in team roping with Dawson Springs teen Allen Morse at the International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The rodeo drew 1,500 competitors.
Aaron said seeing the number of spectators in the stands gave him mixed feelings.
“I was excited and pumped, but I was also nervous,” he said.
His mom and dad were also there to cheer them on.
Becky, a stay-at-home mom, said rodeoing has kept their family close through the years.
“It is expensive and we’re gone a lot, but I get to spend a lot of time with my kids,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed that.”
David, a self-employed paintless dent repairman, said they’re on the road most weekends out of the year.
“Our youngest doesn’t know anything other than rodeos on the weekend,” the dad said. “It does get tiresome and you get behind on things at home, but it is a lot of fun.”
Paige remembers long, cross-country car rides when she and her siblings were younger. She said they’d pass the time by playing road games, annoying one another or catching up on sleep.
“When you’re in a vehicle for sometimes 24 hours at a time, you learn a lot about everybody and you have to learn to get along.”
Luckily, the Stallons don’t have to travel far for the upcoming Lone Star Rodeo. The two-day event will be at 8 p.m. August 14 and 15 at the Western Kentucky State Fairgrounds.
The teens look forward to the event each year because family and friends get a chance to see them do what they love. They also hope to win big and place high.
“It’s a hometown rodeo so you don’t want to go out there and choke,” Bethany said. “You want to do the best you can.”
Bethany said, to prepare, she puts forth her best effort and works hard in practice. Paige said the key to winning any rodeo is keeping a positive attitude.
“A lot of it can be considered a mind game,” Paige said. “If you go in really nervous or upset, you could beat yourself out of it before you ever even go.”