PHOTO: One young cowboy points out the roping station during the pre-event for the Franklin Rodeo, which runs May 17-19 / Brooke Wanser
By BROOKE WANSER
On the night before the Franklin Rodeo kicked off, people trickled into the Williamson County Agricultural Exposition Center.
Most visitors came with young children in tow, as a few vendors sat at their booths, mingling and greeting each other.
It’s Kevin Sanders’ first rodeo. Well, his first Franklin rodeo.
Sanders is attending in his official capacity as the Jack Daniel’s “Barrel Man,” a role which includes reverse engineering whiskey barrels to create souvenir items like tables and mounted racks.
But mostly, he crafts back together the famous barrels, notable pieces of art in many southern circles.
Sanders lives on a farm in Lynchburg, where the Jack Daniel’s distillery is, and has worked for the company for 22 years.
Another vendor, Glen House of Creek Shop, said he has been coming to the rodeo for several years.
His wife sells stained glass pieces, while he sells leather goods, like saddles, harnesses, and other pieces he handcrafts.
Down the stairs and into the arena, children petted two heeler dogs who guide the livestock during the rodeo.
Through the doors and back to the pens where livestock are kept, children marveled at the cows and horses.
In one corner, jeans and cowboy hat clad volunteers demonstrated how to rope livestock on hay bale animals for children, while adults wandered over to speak with some of the cowboys riding in the rodeo.
Dylan Sandvick is only 19, yet he has been riding bareback for three years, coming from Kaycee, Wyoming, to compete in the eight-second event.
He grew up attending several of the National Finals Rodeos in Las Vegas with his father, 12-time NFR bareback rider “Wild Man” Larry Sandvick.
When asked how he liked Franklin, a stark contrast from his town of under 300 people, Sandvick shrugged.
“It’s really humid,” he said.