BONIFAY — Co-owner of 4-L Diamond S Rodeo Co. Charlie Lawry was guest speaker at the Bonifay Kiwanis Club’s June 5 meeting, giving a brief history of how 4-L Diamond S Rodeo Co. was formed and what it means for this year’s upcoming Northwest Florida Championship Rodeo.
Lawry confirmed that the Northwest Florida Championship Rodeo held in Bonifay every October was the largest rodeo in this part of the country.
“Most rodeos in this area go for two days tops but to go for three days straight is rare for this area,” he said. “This rodeo is also nationally known for its grass and Grand Entry. The only other grass arena is in Oregon.”
Grass had its advantages and disadvantages, explained Lawry.
“A lot of riders and participants don’t like grass because there’s not as much grip as dirt, that’s why barrel racing isn’t done as much as it use to at the rodeo,” he said. “Personally I like it because I find it more of a challenge and I like a good challenge.”
He gave an update on the rodeo circuit, saying the rules had changed as far as how many rodeos count towards the national competition.
“It use to be that you could go to as many rodeos you wanted to and it would count towards the nationals,” said Lawry. “Now they’ve limited it to 85 rodeos so the participants have been a little more selective of where they ride.”
Lawry also gave a brief history of himself and how they came to the Northwest Florida Championship Rodeo.
“My family was in the cattle business and I learned to rope at that time,” he said. “Eventually I got good enough to compete and since there was no rodeo around that area I had to leave home. I was blessed with a God-given talent to earn money competing in rodeos and I competed everywhere I could.”
He said he graduated from college one week, got married the next and was enlisted in the army the next week.
“Due to failing the health exam I was back in the circuit,” said Lawry. “I got my Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association card and was a finalist in the California rodeo in 1981. I went to all the biggest rodeos in America and never knew I would become a contractor one day.”
He said it shouldn’t have surprised him to be getting into the business since he was familiar with working with all of the biggest rodeos in America and how they were operated.
“I eventually bought a contract from someone selling their rodeo and before I knew it the rodeo expanded from five shows a year to 15 and 20 shows a year and have been doing it ever since,” said Lawry. “Our bulls went to the national competition in Las Vegas and in 2007 we teamed up with Diamond S Rodeo Co. The ‘4-L’ was added on and stood for our family of four Lawrys.”
He said it was a good partnership because “they raised a lot of bulls and need a place to buck bulls and I needed bulls to buck.”
“We’re a family oriented business with very little down time in the shows,” he said. “A lot of contractors don’t care about timed events but I do. I also thank you for all of the support that has been shown in this area; you’ve been a great bunch of people with great crowds.”
Lawry said he’s looking forward to another good Northwest Florida Championship Rodeo in October.