The Sumner County Anti-Drug Coalition's Bold Enough Challenge Rodeo returns this weekend with two nights of events that will help support efforts to combat local substance abuse.
The 9th annual International Professional Rodeo Association sanctioned event will take place Friday and Saturday at Triple Creek Park in Gallatin. As many as 3,000 spectators from across Middle Tennessee and Kentucky are expected attend as well as contestants from across the southeast.
"In recent years, we've had to double our seating and expand our selection of vendors to accommodate the growth," said Chris Poarch, board member for the Gallatin-based nonprofit. "We've created an event that locals love and out-of-towners will drive hours to come see."
Each night, the rodeo will feature multiple contests including trick riding and barrel racing. There will also be a mechanical bull, pony rides and a variety of food vendors available for attendees.
The smoke and alcohol-free event remains the coalition's only major fundraiser to support its mission of eliminating substance abuse and building a thriving, drug-free community.
In Sumner County, an estimated 6,247 residents age 12 and older misused prescription drugs in 2005, according to the most recent report prepared by EMT Associated Inc. on behalf of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
"People don't want to talk about (addiction) or they want to brush it under the rug," said Liz Johnson, executive director of the Sumner County Anti-Drug Coalition. "It's a downward spiral immediately. It ruins people's lives, it ruins their family's lives and it can lead to death. It's a hard hole to get out of for these people that get into that."
Student survey: alcohol use up, cigarettes down
In January, the nonprofit conducted a survey of approximately 5,200 sophomores and seniors in all public high schools in the county regarding several issues facing teens like alcohol, tobacco and prescription drug use.
The survey found the number of students who admitted to smoking a cigarette within the last 30 days had decreased from 18 percent in 2013 to 7 percent this year. However, alcohol use increased during the same time from 9 percent in 2013 to 13 percent this year.
"I truly think (the lack of a) perception of harm is a big thing with kids," Johnson said about the results. "The perception of harm and the risk of harm have not budged a lot. That is something that we're really going to have to tackle are these thoughts of parents thinking either it's not their kid or it's just a couple of drinks and it's not a big deal."
The number of students who said they had misused their own prescription drugs or used prescription drugs not prescribed to them within the last 30 days also decreased from 7 percent in 2013 to 5 percent this year, according to the survey.
The Sumner County Anti-Drug Coalition is planning a continuing medical education conference for doctors in October. Proceeds from the event, which will focus on prescribing practices, will go to help support the Recovery Court of Sumner County.
"(Patients) are not necessarily given all of the information that they need to keep them from being addicted to these medications," Johnson said. "So, it's never a bad thing to get re-educated and refreshed on these things."
IF YOU GO
What: Sumner County Anti-Drug Coalition's 9th annual Bold Enough Challenge Rodeo
When: July 14 and 15 from 7:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. Gates open at 6 p.m.
Where: Triple Creek Park in Gallatin
Cost: Advance tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12. Children 5 and under are free.
*Tickets can be purchased online at www.sumnercoalition.eventbrite.com or at Perkins Drugs & Gift Shoppe and the Co-Op in Gallatin, Wilson Bank & Trust in Hendersonville and Macon Bank & Trust in Westmoreland.