Pay dirt

ATLANTIC CITY — I’ve never heard of a dirt donation before, but apparently after the Atlantic City Boardwalk Rodeo leaves town, one will be made.

Following an old tradition of animal acts on the famous Boardwalk, Atlantic City for the second time will welcome the renowned rodeo beginning March 30. It will run — literally — through April 1.

The rodeo, a competitive event sanctioned by the Professional Cowboy Rodeo Association, will be the largest such spectacle on the East Coast and will award up to $55,000 in prize money to cowboys and cowgirls from across the United States.

Events include bareback riding, tie-down and team roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, barrel races, and bull riding. Tickets are priced between $16 and $102. For information, go to

About 1,250 tons of a special dirt mixture had to be brought into Boardwalk Hall to create the rodeo arena. The mixture, known as “footing,” which consists of one part clay and two parts sand and is indigenous to this region, provides a perfect balance of flexibility and firmness for the animals, according to the rodeo organizers.

When the show is over, about half of the dirt will be given to the Atlantic County 4-H chapter. Valued at about $15,000, the footing will be spread at the 4-H’s horse arena in Mays Landing, said Debi Cole, the county 4-H agent.

Cole said the 4-H chapter, which has about 500 members in Atlantic County, welcomed the donation because it had been working about five years to raise money for footing at its facility.