Saddle Up for St. Jude starts Friday

Published 5:00 am Friday, November 2, 2007

Saddle Up For St. Jude organizer James Pickett said he wantsthis weekend’s event to be the biggest thing south of Memphis.

Pickett, who handled the Toys for Tots ride last year, said hewas contacted by St. Jude a few months ago afther hospitalofficials saw his story on The DAILY LEADER’s Web site. He eagerlyagreed to help with the Saddle Up for St. Jude event.

“When it comes to kids I’ll bend over backwards, so I decided todo this,” Pickett said.

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Saddle Up for St. Jude is a three-day event that takes placeFriday through Sundayat the Multi-Purpose Arena on Industrial ParkRoad and includes all sorts of fun and games for the wholefamily.

Pickett said he was in talks with St. Jude for a solid weekbefore knowing exactly how he wanted to handle the event. But sincehe and his people really started working on it, things have falleninto place.

“The enthusiasm has been good thanks to great publicity, and alot of people have gotten out to try to help me with it,” he said.”I feel good about it, and this is something that’s going to go onfor as long as I’m alive.”

And St. Jude is so pleased with the planning for the event thata representative is coming from Memphis, the home of the children’scancer research hospital.

“I was able to get a representative to come down, to collectmoney on stage,” he said. “And one reason I agreed to do that wasthat the people of Lincoln County have been burned so much theythink people aren’t doing what they’re supposed to with the money.But I’m asking people to make out a check straight to St. Jude tohelp with this cause.”

The weekend kicks off Friday at 6 p.m. Among the Friday nightfestivities are barrel racing and sack races for both children andadults. There is an event for children where the first one to pulla ribbon off the goat’s tail gets a prize, and there will also be awomanless beauty pageant featuring local characters asparticipants.

“We’ll also have a lockup going on all weekend,” said Pickett,adding that people can pay a dollar to have a friend or familymember locked up, and someone must match the dollar to get them outof the “jail.”

“Several businesses have donated things for our silent auction,”he said. “And Sheriff Steve Rushing has agreed to be in the dunkingbooth as long as I get in there, too. I think that’s going to bereal good.”

Saturday the gate opens at 6 a.m., but events begin with a14-mile trail ride at 8 a.m.

“We’ll have two breaks, and it’ll be a really laid-back ride,”Pickett said. “Randy Hudson has bent over backwards for thiseffort, and he’ll be the escort, as will Truly Earl Smith.”

And the games and fun will continue all throughout the day onSaturday.

“We’ll have all kinds of games all day Saturday, and dependingon crowd,” he said. “There’ll be something to keep the kids going,don’t worry. We’ll also have local talent to sing.”

Among the acts performing are a gospel group called The Beforeand After, as well as Franklin County’s Band of Brothers.

“They’ve been to Nashville and Virginia, among other places, andthey’re just fantastic,” said Pickett. “Normally they’ll charge agood cost for a two hour performance, but they’re donating theirtime to us.”

Sunday morning’s Cowboy Church will begin at 8 a.m., and therewill be a short trail ride at 9 before the gates close for theweekend at noon.