One advantage of living in a rural community is that you have a chance of getting to know your local politicians. One of our County Commissioners heads up a bluegrass band, N2Picken, with some excellent banjo playing. He shows up at all sorts of benefit events, especially during an election cycle. Another runs a farm down the road. In season, I might run into him at the local gas station, with a load of corn or other produce on the back of his truck. Fort the last few years, he has brought the Bulls and Barrels Rodeo to his farm in the Fall.
The rodeo is a community and family event. One end of Teets Farm (www.teetsfarm.com) has a natural bowl where Lost River makes a curve, leaving a level area for the performance and a hillside for the spectators. Parking is in the hay field, which as been cut by this time of year. A concessions area is set up with BBQ’s burgers and steak sandwiches, kettle-corn, T-shirts, and other rodeo memorabilia. Most folks bring lawn chairs or blankets and lots of children,
who are about as entertaining to watch as the bull and horse riders (plus we do not have to take any of them home with skinned knees, bruises, and soiled clothes). After a week of rain, we had two days of sunshine to dry up the mud, but a cool evening to keep the dust and bugs down.
The events at this rodeo alternate between the adult competitors and local children and teenagers joining in various competitions. Bull riding is a cowboy event. Barrel racing is a cowgirl event. Either gender can be decked out in sparkling caps, shirts, vests, and hats, or donning menacing black. Either gender can make a thudding sound when they hit the dirt after a fall. I hope they had lots of ice packs in the back area.
Bull riders aim to stay on for eight seconds. When this occurs, both the rider and the bull receive points scores from the judges. I understand this system about as much as Olympic ice skating scoring, but the rider who dismounted doing a back flip was awarded the highest score for the evening. Barrel racers must follow a specific course around three barrels as quickly as possible. Time, which is enhanced by accuracy of the ride, is the deciding factor.
Between these events are competitions among local children: pig scramble, mutton busting, and calf branding. A pig scramble consists of a bunch of early elementary school age children and several small greased pigs in the ring. Who even gets ahold of and hangs onto a pig first wins. All that grease then holds the dirt on the child for the rest of the
evening. This pretty much looks like the title announces. We missed this event, which must have beens scheduled early in the evening.
Mutton busting is for later elementary age children. With a bicycle helmut and life vest in place, the child places his or her arms around a sheep’s neck and tries to hold on for eight seconds. Sheep can run a long ways in eight seconds. Most of the children get a mouthful of dirt coming out of the gate. Sheep can be erratic and sneaky too. Two paired up at one point to push open the main gate of the ring. They took off with
quite a bounce past the horse riders, trailer, and into a field. The rodeo clown’s joke about, “Now we have a sheep scramble” got quite a laugh.
Calf branding is for the high school aged youth. A bucket of paint is placed in the middle of the ring. Teams of three have one brand and the assignment to catch, down, and tie the legs of a 200 lbs calf, then run back to get the brand, plunge it into the paint and run back to “brand” their calf, which hopefully the other two
team members have kept on the ground. The FFA team caught their calf first, but struggled to get it to fall over while the other teams got their calves more excited by chasing them in circles around the ring. Eventually the three FFA student managed to use their collective weight to topple the calf to get the brand on.
The evening rounded off with a nearly full moon cresting North Mountain and Lost River and fireworks going off. Making a local joke, the rodeo DJ played Guns ‘n Rose’s, Paradise City (“Take me down
to Paradise City, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty”), which is in reference to a local strip club of that name. We slipped away before the cars filed out to the single lane country road to have dinner at the Lost River Grill (plus inside toilets).