JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the tenth year in a row the national roping finals are in Jacksonville this weekend.
Teams from across the country were in the River City to compete for $500,000 in prizes, plus some pretty big bragging rights.
It‘s the biggest roping event east of the Mississippi and a serious competition, where every second counts.
400 head of cattle were brought in for the event at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center on the Westside. John Johnson with the national team roping league said this sport has been around for centuries.
"For the national team roping league this our super bowl, this our world series, our national championship and guys plan for this all year long," Johnson said. “You rope with a partner and team roping kind of got started back in the 17,1800's, when cattle got too large for one cowboy to rope the steer, doctored it and brand it. And so now, they gotta’ guy that will rope the horns, one will rope the feet and it’s a progressive deal.
For each exciting event, the winner could take tens of thousands of dollars home. But for participants like Mike Jones from Alabama, the fun alone is worth it.
“It's just like playing golf, people play racquetball, it's just a hobby. But it's more than a hobby. It's what we do all the time, at home, at an arena with steers. It's part of the whole deal," Jones said.
The roping finals are in town through Sunday. The events start at 8:30 each morning and it's at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, which is off of Normandy Boulevard. The event is free, just remember to wear your cowboy hat and boots.