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Plenty of horsing around at the rodeo

| Thursday, July 8, 2004

EAST FRANKLIN -- You're never too young to do trick riding and at 60, Williard Powell feels he's almost reached the prime of his riding career.

Powell, a Cherokee Indian who is known as The Lone Indian Chief, made a guest appearance near Pasta Bravo at the Hilltop Plaza yesterday afternoon with one of his horses, "Ghost Dance." Powell will be one of the main features at the Fort Armstrong Horsemen's Association annual rodeo tomorrow and Saturday evenings.

Powell's trick riding repertoire includes Roman style riding on two of his horses, "Lakota" and "Patches," and riding his trick horse, "Ghost Dance." One of the highlights of Powell's act is to have all three horses jump through hoops of fire to the delight of a spell-bound audience.

Powell, who makes his home in Bonifay, Fla., has been doing trick riding at professional rodeos since 1984. He has appeared in rodeo and hose show events throughout the United States and Canada and several times at the prestigious National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

In addition to demonstrating his horsemanship skills, Powell also has a keen interest in Native American affairs.

"I am part Cherokee," he said, "but while living in Florida I became involved with the Creek Indians."

A number of years ago Powell was appointed as a representative of Holmes County on the Northwest Florida Creek Indian Council, which petitioned the federal government to officially recognize the Creek Indians living east of the Mississippi. The Creek Indians eventually won recognition and were awarded grants for education, housing and financial help.

Horsemen's Association President Karen Thayer said this is Powell's first appearance in Armstrong County.

"We'll have other equally exciting performances too," she said. "There will be bull and bronco riding, roping events and everything you'd expect to see at a rodeo. Not only will the shows be exciting but we want the people to know that much of the money generated by this event goes into the community."

Profits are given to the Laube Cancer Center for the Patient Care Fund, Ford City Ambulance, Lions Club and local 4-H chapters.

Thayer said a special platform with wheelchair access is available for the handicapped, and was donated as part of a memorial fund by the family of the late Bob Buchleitner, who was a member of the association. Handicapped parking will be available at the association park in Manor Township.

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