Guest Blog By: Kathy Ann Gregg
Everyone in the rodeo world knows about the tragic barrel-racing accident involving Lara Dewees and her horse Genny in February at the Hattiesburg, Mississippi rodeo, and the ensuing death of this delightful young woman.
Lara was a frequent competitor at the Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo held annually in March, as well as the recently renewed Fall Rodeo and other barrel-racing events held there.
With her passing having been less than two weeks prior to this year’s annual event, the Arcadia Rodeo Board of Directors decided to pay tribute to this special young lady, and conduct a collection for her son, 20-month-old Layton Moesching. Photos of Lara with various family members were placed around the Arena, coupled with several of her poems. And just prior to the barrel-racing event every day, a recording of Lara singing was played, followed by a moment of silence. What an angelic voice she had.
And during each day’s Grand Entry, one of the riderless horses was dedicated to Lara.
The entertainer at Arcadia this year was Keith Isley, a well-known and beloved rodeo clown/entertainer/barrelman. When Isley heard of the collection being held, he decided to up the efforts, and donated his barrel – anyone donating a minimum of $5 got to sign the barrel, which would be delivered to Lara’s family at the conclusion of the 4-day event. And this is the very barrel that Isley used every day during the bullriding.
At the end of Thursday’s performance, they announced that $840 had been raised. What a good start! Before the performance on the following three days, Isley stood next to the barrel to encourage donations.
And at the end of the entire rodeo, in excess of $6,000 had been raised. One gentleman handed them a 100-dollar-bill. The girls handed him his change after he had signed the barrel, and he responded “No, keep the entire amount. That little boy needs it more than I do.”
Lara was standing 44th in the WPRA at the time of her death, and was racing to keep her standing as Reserve Champion in the Southeastern Circuit. She had been the 2007 Miss Teen Rodeo Florida. She was a teacher for home-schooling in her local school district, and was a cancer survivor. She was engaged to Layton’s father, fellow rodeo competitor Cory Moesching.
But now Lara has joined the choir of angels. Those of us remaining behind will miss her, and will keep the fond memories we have of her. And we will see that Layton is taken care of, and always remembers his Mom. Rest in Peace, Lara Dewees.
Header Photo: (Shown in the photo, from the left, are Arcadia Rodeo President Don T. Hall, Board Member John Lipe, Keith Isley, Layton being held by his Dad Cory Moesching, Lara’s Uncle Spunk Sasser, and Board Member Jimmy Fussell.)