Before the YMBL South Texas State Fair opens its gates every year, hundreds of special needs students from schools all over Southeast Texas pack Ford Arena for the annual YMBL Harold Engstrom Memorial Special Kids Rodeo.

"This is something that started in 1990, (the late) Judge Harold Engstrom started it... they'll bring these kids in, kids that don't generally get to go to things like this... we have clowns that work the stands, they play a lot of music... there's plenty of room for them to get up and dance," said Chuck Kiker, rodeo chairman.

Unable to contain his excitement, Woodville High School student Adam Whitener cheered wildly as he watched the cattle-roping and barrel racing events.

Adam was one of about 1,500 special needs students who attended Thursday's rodeo.

Many were dressed in cowboy hats and were quick to tell us their favorite part of the event.

"I like when they jump on the cows and put them on the ground," said Kountze Elementary School student Karlie Mae.

"I just wanted to see the horses," said Marshall Middle School student Donny Elmore.

Emily Bell, a life skills teacher at Woodville Middle School, says this was her first year brining a group of students to the rodeo.

"I think it's wonderful, the kids are having the best time... I really hope that all the teachers in our district take advantage of this because this is just a great program," said Bell.

"It's probably one of the most rewarding projects we do... these kids have so much fun, you can see the smiles on their faces," said Kiker.