County fairs aren’t the same without rodeos, pardner

How is it possible to have a county fair without a rodeo?

The Island County Fair ended last week and there were the usual number of cute pictures in our sister newspaper, the South Whidbey Record, of kids and adults showing off porkers, horses and kitty cats, or critters raised for 4-H projects, along with folks selling grub or checking out carnival rides.

But what I miss the most are the rodeos connected with county fairs.

My previous newspaper gig was in Eastern Oregon where we had the Grant, Morrow and Umatilla county fairs. As an added attraction, each fair had a rodeo that lasted a minimum of three days.

Now before all you animal rights activists get in a snit and think the sports editor at the Whidbey News-Times was one of those guys who got into the pool betting on the exact time they were going to give Smiley “the needle,” you’re wrong. Then again, maybe he does deserve a visit from the Leverage team or at least have his poodle kidnapped for even mentioning the dreaded word, rodeo. But stop for a moment and collect your thoughts.

What I had in mind was a kids rodeo. A kids rodeo is usually included with the adult one, that features bull riding, steer roping, chuckwagon races and all the other events were competitors can get killed and animals can get injured.

Kids rodeos are different.

For those of you who haven’t attended one, you’ve missed something that needs to be put on your “Bucket List.”

At a kids rodeo, you have stick horse races with the competitors divided into age groups. Watching a 4-year-old “ride” his stick horse over 50 yards of arena dirt is a kick to watch.

Then you have the goat untying event. Here is a cute little girl with her hair in pigtails wearing a pink Dale Evans hat, running up to a small goat tied to a tether and very gently untying a ribbon from the animal’s tail before hustling back to the start/finish line as fast as possible.

Then you have your pole bending race where young riders weave their horses back and forth through a line of poles from one end to the other brfore speeding back to the finish line.

Finally, you have the ever-popular mutton bustin’.

In this event, kids ages 8 and under wearing bicycle-type helmets try to stay on board a sheep until the 8-second whistle blows.

That’s the kind of rodeo I’m talking about.

A fun one where nobody gets hurt, and everyone has a good laugh.

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