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LOVINGTON, N.M. â€“ Much has changed around the Lea County Fair and Rodeo since the last time Cody Sosebee was the entertainer inside Jake McClure Arena.
â€śThe Lovington rodeo has a lot of chrome on it now and is really bright and shiney,â€ť said Sosebee, who will be the rodeo clown and entertainer during the five nights of rodeo action, beginning with the Lea County Xtreme Bulls on Tuesday, Aug. 4, and continuing through the full rodeo performances from Wednesday, Aug. 5-Saturday, Aug. 8. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m.
â€śItâ€™s a lot different now than it was then. The rodeo has finally been recognized as one of the best, and they have Xtreme Bulls and Pete Carrâ€™s bucking stock. Itâ€™s really a special rodeo.â€ť
That it is. The Lea County rodeo has been nominated as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year each of the past two seasons. Thatâ€™s quite an honor for an event thatâ€™s in the same class as the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days and the Pendleton (Ore.) Roundup.
â€śThatâ€™s a super good committee, and you can tell theyâ€™ve worked their butts off to make a good rodeo even better,â€ť he said. â€śWhen they came to tell me they were excited to have me coming back, it really was a great thing for me. I love that rodeo.â€ť
The rodeo committee isnâ€™t the only entity thatâ€™s been honored with nominations and awards. Sosebee is a five-time nominee for PRCA Clown of the Year and a two-time finalist for Comedy Act of the Year. He will be a big part of the action that is orchestrated by Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the primary livestock producer thatâ€™s been nominated for Stock Contractor of the Year in 2013-14.
â€śYou get to work with an A team of personnel and an A team list of stock,â€ť he said. â€śAnytime you get to work with people who excel in their field, it only makes me that much better.â€ť
In addition to his clowning nomination, the former competitor also has been nominated for the PRCA Comedy Act of the Year two of the past three seasons. But thereâ€™s much more to Sosebee than meets the eye. Over his lifetime, heâ€™s competed in nearly every rodeo event possible and was at the top of his game in bareback riding.
Itâ€™s part of the life growing up in a family that was heavily involved in rodeo. His father was a pickup man, so Sosebee has been part of the sport as long as he can remember.
â€śI got into clowning by accident by filling in for guys,â€ť said Sosebee, who also owns a barbecue restaurant in his hometown of Charleston, Ark., just 25 miles east of Fort Smith, Ark. â€śI didnâ€™t know where I was going to go with my rodeo career when I quit riding barebacks, and it turned into a good living. I get to see the world.
â€śI live in a community with one four-way stop, and I get to go to a lot of great places where as soon as you pull into town, you are considered a rock star for a week.â€ť
A born competitor, the clown has made the adjustments he needed to get the true fix after a lifetime of being part of the contest.
â€śIâ€™ve always been a competitor in anything I did, from football to basketball to when I was in freestyle bullfighting,â€ť he said. â€śI miss putting my hand in the rigginâ€™ and nodding my head to be 80 points to win the rodeo, but Iâ€™m a realist. Iâ€™m 43 years old. While most of the guys I rodeoed with have slowed down and have found jobs, I get to be in the arena and get to make a living in rodeo doing something I love.â€ť
Sosebee also plays to his strengths. Bigger than many in the game, he showcases a true athleticism that is rarely seen among men of his stature. Itâ€™s comedy at the purest level.
â€śHaving the ability to laugh at myself is probably my biggest strength,â€ť he said. â€śI donâ€™t take anything too serious. When Iâ€™m watching a comedian, the funniest thing I see is when theyâ€™re honestly open and having a good time. I want the fans to see that Iâ€™m a real person and Iâ€™m having fun, and they can have fun with me.â€ť
Thatâ€™s why Sosebee has excelled as one of the premier rodeo clowns in the game. Thatâ€™s why the volunteer committee is bringing him to town. Itâ€™s another key reason the Lea County Fair and Rodeo is always at the top of the game.