Like a Farragut cowboy

2015 FHS grad aims for prestigious Frontier Days rodeo next summer

Lenoir City may not be the western frontier, but right now for Carson Farmer it’s the next best thing.

The 2015 Farragut High School graduate practices daily on the family’s pastureland, honing the rodeo roping skills he hopes will lead him to compete at Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming, next summer.

“That is the granddaddy of them all,” he said of the competition. “Cheyenne would be a dream come true, just to ride [in that arena].

“I don’t care if I rope a single cow, it would just be an honor to be there.”

The goal is more than achievable. After three years on the amateur rodeo circuit, he is finally pursuing the next level of the sport, and recently received his “pro card.”

“You have to be 18 to get it,” he said. “And it is only a permit until you win $1,000, then it becomes your card.”

Farmer estimated if he just places at two upcoming rodeos, he will be able to qualify. He participated in three pro rodeos earlier this year, and won his first competitive saddle in Franklin.

Step by step, he is following what he hopes will be a life-long career path.

“It is the most addictive thing in the world,” Farmer said.

He said realizing there was money to be made in the sport was just icing on the cake.

“I have always been competitive,” Farmer said. “My cousin has always roped, and one year he made $36,000 about 20 years ago.

“That really got my interest, to know you could do that for a living.”

Farmer took up riding as a sophomore, after becoming “burned out” following eight years of football play.

“My dad told me to find another sport, or to get a job,” he said.

His sights then turned to horses. The animals and the rodeo sport was already familiar to him, as his uncle, Ed Farmer, has long been on the pro rodeo circuit as a steer roper.

Farmer’s father, Joel, who also ropes and rides, insisted Carson take care of a horse before buying him one of his own.

The family then lived off Union Road, and Carson found a mildly neglected local horse that he began to visit and groom.

“My dad told me it would be a year before I got my own horse, but it was probably just six or seven months before I got one,” he said.

Ed Farmer, who lives in Georgia, found Carson’s first horse, and the FHS alumnus said he spent every Saturday, driving to his uncle’s home to train.

Of all the events in competitive rodeo — including barrel racing, saddle and bareback bronco riding and bull riding — Farmer’s choice has always been calf roping and team roping.

He said the sport is not hard, but there is a certain strategy and requires a lot of practice time.

His family, which also includes his mother, Angela, supported Carson’s passion so much that they moved to an expansive property in Lenoir City four years ago so he could train regularly and freely. Farmer estimates he ropes at least 200 times a day, using either real calves or a “dummy” calf he has on site.

Farmer primarily rides 13-year-old “Yeller,” a horse he has had for three years that he “wouldn’t give up” even though he has had several offers.

He and his father practice and ride together, and sometimes compete in team roping events. Earlier this year, they came in 10th out of 352 teams.

Farmer hopes to give professional rodeo a real chance after he completes his sociology course at Pellissippi State Community College. “I would at least like to find a job in the western industry,” he said.

“To be able to compete is the most fun thing,” Farmer added. “And to win money, doing something you love, there is really nothing like it.”

• The Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Campaign has officially kicked off and will run through Saturday, Dec. 23. For more information, visit

• Episcopal Relief & Development is launching its annual Holiday Matching Gift Challenge now through Dec. 31. For more information, call 855-312-4325.

• Nutcrackers collected over a span of 40 years currently are on display in Farragut Town Hall. The collection, which belongs to Beverley Hammond, Farragut Arts Council and Farragut Museum docent, includes a 100-year-old nutcracker that was brought to America from Sweden by her mother-in-law. Collection on display through December. For more information, call 865-218-3372.

Newcomers Club will hold its meeting at noon, Wednesday, Dec. 20, at Bearden Banquet Hall. Farragut High School Madrigal Singers will perform. For reservations, call 865-985-0521.

The Cove will host its annual Holiday Festival of Lights from 6 to 9 p.m., Friday through Saturday, Dec. 15-30; excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The event is free although Knox Count will collect non-perishable food items for The Love Kitchen. For more information, call Mike Donila, 865-215-6616.

Knoxville Symphony Orchestra will present the 31st annual Clayton Holiday Concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 15-16 and 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 16-17. Tickets start at $8.50. For more information, call 865-521-2337.

The WordPlayers, in collaboration with Pellissippi State Community College will present “A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas,” at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 15; 2:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 16-17, at Clayton Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $8-$12. For more information, visit

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett has launched his final Wreaths Across America team as mayor. A $15 sponsorship will pay for a wreath made of live greenery to be placed on a veteran’s grave Saturday, Dec. 16, at either the Old East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery on Lyons View Pike, East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery or the Knoxville National Cemetery. For donations, checks should be mailed to “Wreaths Across America,” 400 Main Street, Suite 615, Knoxville, TN 37902.

The Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble will hold open auditions for new members at 1:30pm on Saturday, Dec. 16, at Dancers Studio. For more information, call 865-584-9636.

Modern Studio in Happy Holler will host “Winter Wonderland Jam,” from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 16. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. For more information, visit

Longstreet-Zollicoffer Camp 87, Sons of Confederate Veterans, will hold its meeting at 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 17, at East Tennessee Historical Society. For more information, email Randy Tindell,

First United Methodist Church of Oak Ridge will host its annual Christmas Concert “Repeat the Sounding Joy,” at 7 p.m., Sunday and Monday, Dec. 17-18. For more information, visit

Town of Farragut will host a free class on Medicare Part D from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 18. Walgreens Pharmacy Manager Jennifer Aramburo will cover how Medicare Part D works, what is covered, how to enroll and other important information. For more information, call 865-218-3375 or visit

Captain WYC Hannum Chapter 1881, UDC will commemorate the birthday of Captain WYC Hannum at 11 a.m., Friday, Dec. 22. For more information, call Debra, 865-856-9300.

Dogwood Arts are calling all artist for Dogwood House & Garden Show. To apply before Dec. 31, email,

The Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon events take place March 24-25, 2018, but now is the time to register and start training. Participants are encouraged to register online at