It is almost time for folks to saddle up and make their way to El Paso to show off their ranch skills.
CrossRoads Cowboy Church and Two Bar Two Arena will host its first ranch rodeo Saturday.
“The main reason for the arena is it’s an event-based ministry,” said Chism Riddle, arena supervisor.
CrossRoads Cowboy Church started a little over a year ago on a piece of land just north of the intersection of U.S. 64 and Arkansas 5 in El Paso. Chism’s father, Ron Riddle, had been a pastor at a church in Jacksonville for years when the local Church of the Nazarene district approached him about being part of a new cowboy church in El Paso.
In April 2013, the church started meeting at 3071 Arkansas 5. While the Two Bar Two Arena was being built, services were held under a pecan tree in front of an old barn.
As the year went on and and winter started to creep into central Arkansas, the church moved into a room off the Two Bar Two Arena, where members have held services since.
“It’s a place where people can come and feel comfortable,” Chism said, “and it’s for everyone. We’ve got people who don’t know anything about the [cowboy] culture.”
Church member Becky Switzer started attending in July of last year, and she said it is a welcoming place for everyone, even those who have been turned away from other churches because of their casual attire or as a result of internal politics.
When Switzer started attending the church, her mother was dying, and Switzer was looking for comfort and encouragement. She mentioned her situation to the pastor after church one day, and he stopped what he was doing to gather some people together and pray for Switzer and her family.
“You feel the warmth here. Everyone has that caring attitude,” she said. “After that, she passed in peace. That’s what we prayed for.”
The church averages 400 attendees between two services each Sunday, and Chism said the congregation has been welcomed in the El Paso area.
“The whole community has jumped in and helped,” he said.
When a tornado swept through El Paso in April, CrossRoads Cowboy Church was one of many churches that collected donations for their neighbors. Switzer said she put the word out Monday morning, and by Monday afternoon, church members had filled part of the building with donations.
While the church is the main element of the property, the arena provides a space for activities and events for members and visitors alike.
The Two Bar Two Arena is open from 6-9 every Tuesday evening for barrel-racing practice and from 6-9 every Thursday night for team-roping practice. Barrel-racing practice is $5 per horse, and the team-roping practice costs $25 per man, plus $10 for each additional horse.
The ranch rodeo on Saturday will consist of four-man teams with a $100 registration fee per team. Teams will compete for fast times in events such as sorting, doctoring, mugging and milking.
“This is based off of the things people do on an actual ranch,” Switzer said.
Prizes for the top-performing teams will include buckles, Bible covers, wild rags and cash.
During the ranch rodeo, CrossRoads Cowboy Church and Two Bar Two Arena will provide a free lunch that will include entries from a potato-salad contest and a baked-bean contest. The lunch’s main course will be provided, and donations will be accepted. To enter the food contests, contact Wanda Riddle at (501) 590-1193.
The ranch rodeo will start at 10 a.m. Saturday, and spectators are invited to watch free of charge. Call in for the event will be from 5-10 p.m. Tuesday. When calling in, participants must have their team name and the name of the team members. Contact Chad Fryar at (479) 243-6651 to call in a team.
More information about CrossRoads Cowboy Church and Two Bar Two Arena can be found at www.crossroadscowboychurchar.com.
Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.