Stampede into Franklin

Franklin Rodeo is fundraiser, family fun for middle Tennessee

A steer wrestler competes at the 2016 Franklin Rodeo. The rodeo raises funds for area organizations and in the last 67 years, has raised over $2.5 million. Photo by Tom Thomson.

Franklin, Tenn. (April 17, 2017) – Every May, Williamson Countians get a chance to have some fun, help others out, and get a taste of the heritage of their county.

It’s when the Franklin Rodeo stampedes into town, bringing with it 68 years of history, about 500 cowboys and cowgirls, and as many horses and bulls.

The rodeo got its start in 1949, a project of the Franklin Noon Rotary Club. As a part of the service organization, its profits have been donated back to area charities; in its nearly seven decades, $2.5 million has been given back to groups such as High Hopes, Tucker’s House, Gentry Education Center, GraceWorks Ministries, CASA, Boys and Girls Club, Williamson County 4-H, the Williamson Medical Center, Bridges Domestic Violence Center, Rotary International, and countless others.

This year’s rodeo, held at the Williamson Co. Ag Expo Park, is May 18-20. It’s a big tradition for the residents of middle Tennessee, said Rotary Club President Tom Thomson. “It’s the longest running community event in Franklin, and it ties us back to an earlier time.” Thomson has lived in Franklin more than twenty years, and it’s a tradition for his children, who grew up attending the rodeo. “It’s one of the few events left that is affordable and enjoyable for every member of the family.”

The annual parade kicks off rodeo week on May 13 at 12 noon through downtown Franklin. The Franklin Rodeo Experience takes place on Wed., May 17, from 6-9 pm and boasts a free down-in-the-dirt rodeo party, where attendees can learn more about the sport and rub elbows with rodeo personalities. It is free and includes line dancing, pony and mechanical bull rides (for a fee), and a food truck corral.

The three nights of rodeo begin at 7 pm each night, May 18-20. Gates open and the Rodeo Café and concessionaires begin serving at 5:30 pm.

Thomson is the official photographer for the rodeo documenting the history of the event. He likes being in the arena and photographing the cowboys before the rodeo begins. “It’s like being in a locker room before a big football game,” he said. “You can feel the intensity and adrenaline of the athletes as they prepare to compete.” He also loves seeing how hard the Rotarians, all volunteers, work producing the rodeo. “I like seeing my fellow Rotarians come together as a team, and the effort they put into making the rodeo successful.

Tickets for the Franklin Rodeo are $20 for adults and $10 for children. All seats are reserved. Tickets can be purchased online at or at the gate. For more information on the Franklin Rodeo, visit the website (, its Facebook or Twitter page.