Every first Friday of the month is something of a happening at the Lee County Sheriff's Posse Arena as dozens of barrel racers of all ages converge to try to win some cash.
It's the monthly jackpot race, and on this Friday night more than 60 cowgirls (with a few guys sprinkled in) hoped the rain would hold off as they turned and burned in barrel racing and pole bending.
Well the rain did just that as the racers competed in a 4-D format, where they have an opportunity to earn money according to the skill level of the rider and the horse.
Jayden Hinman, 11, of LaBelle, runs poles at the monthly 4-D jackpot barrel racing event at the Posse Arena on Friday. Hinman won the 2D barrel race.
The 1-D winner is the fastest overall, 2-D is the nearest to being a half-second behind, 3-D is one second, and 4-D is at least two seconds behind, making for exciting racing until the very last rider.
The top three riders in each division takes money home.
"It's set up now so that people don't need big bucks to buy the big horses. We all have a chance to place. That's why it's boomed so much," said Lisa Davis of LaBelle, a competitor, "It gives everyone a chance. It's like gambling, you see the top rider and where you fall in is where you fall in."
According to Sherry Groff, one of the event organizers, this year's series has an added twist and make the stakes a little higher.
"This is the Sweet Cypress Grand Buckle Series and at the end of the year, whoever wins the division, Sweet Cypress Ranch has donated buckle and all division winners will get a free bag of feed," Groff said.
The races aren't quite as formal as you would see in a rodeo, though a few riders went with full western gear, such as Jayden Hinman, 11, of Buckingham, who got her first horse as part of a bet she made with her parents.
"If she won the school spelling bee, we would buy her a horse and that's how she got in," said Sarah Hinman, Jayden's mom. "I get nervous every time she rides. She's wiped out several times, but she gets back on. These kids have no fear."
Jayden, who recently raced in Perry, Ga, in youth worlds, won the 2-D division and $161.
Just ask Kali Holt, 9, of Alva, who has ridden horses since she was 4 - and got hooked the moment she rode her first horse.
"My me-maw got my brother a stick horse and I took it and I rode it everywhere," Kali said. "I wasn't enough, so I got a real horse. It's an adrenaline rush and I love it."
Kali, who also just competed in Georgia, won the 4-D division and $96 for her efforts.
Davis has been racing since before either Holt or Hinman were born, and she would like to ride for as long as she can.
"I saw a lot of these kids when they were real little," Davis said. "I love it. I don't care if I'm 70 years old, I'm still going to do it."
Velvet Scott was the victor in 1-D, who bested Summer Muiller by .008 seconds and earned $183. Brittany Smith won in 3-D and took home $118.