The Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo returns for its 88th year

They call it "The Grandaddy of 'em All." At age 88, it's actually more like the great-grandaddy.

The Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo began its life as a modest event sponsored by the American Legion. The whole goal was to raise enough money for a new building for the organization. It was more successful than its organizers had hoped. It grew over the years, weathered the Great Depression and became one of the premier rodeos in Florida, and even in the nation.

This year's Arcadia Rodeo gets underway Thursday and runs though the weekend. The gates open at 11 a.m. each day. A shootout performance starts at 1 p.m., followed by "Mutton Bustin."

The rodeo itself starts at 2 p.m.

The cowboys you'll see in Arcadia are among the best professional rodeo athletes in the country. They're aiming not just to win purses here, but to work their way to the "Super Bowl" of rodeo: the National Finals held annually in Las Vegas.

Details: 2 p.m. March 10-13, Arcadia Rodeo Arena, 124 Heard St., Arcadia. Tickets: $15 children, $20 reserved, $25 premium, $30 super premium. Information: 863-494-2014, arcadiarodeo.com.

-- Marty Clear