Riley Berner, loves rodeo season.
“I like the bull riding,” the 9-year-old Senora Elementary School student said. “It’s exciting and sometimes the bull kicks them back. You have to be tough.”
While she likes rodeo’s most dangerous event, she admits, she not going to try it anytime soon. Riley does, however, like another aspect of the long-loved rodeo sport.
“Rodeo clowns are funny,” she explained with a grin. “They dance around and put on different cloths. It’s funny. It’s exciting and you never know what they are going to do.”
You can tell that Riley’s younger brother, Remington, likes the rodeo, too. He’s a little shy when being interviewed, but you can be sure he will be at his sister’s side during this season’s rodeos.
Asked if he liked rodeo horses, Remington smiled and nodded affirmatively.
A rodeo fan, Remington, age 6, admits he’s not a cowboy hat fan, and isn’t into bandanas or wearing chaps. He gets a little more talkative when tempted by the prize money available for some kids rodeo events.
Do you think you could ride a sheep to win prize money? “Yes,” he said. Do you think you would be good at it?
Again, “yes,” he said with an even wider smile.
Seems like the idea of cash can even get the attention of a shy kid.
Mutton busting just one events for kids at Rodeo of the Ozarks
Rick Culver is ready to rodeo.
Rick, executive director of the Rodeo of the Ozarks, has been preparing for He’s not the only one. Kids from around the region have been training for their events too.
“As soon as we open up for registration we will get a flood of entries,” he said. “We’ve already had calls. The kids take it very seriously. They are all dressed up with chaps and boots and hats. The parents will tell you, the kids practice.”
Rodeo of the Ozarks is one of the largest outdoor rodeos in the country. Each year the Springdale event attracts between 30 and 35 thousand competitors and attendees from around the country.
Rick believes that rodeo fever sets in at an early age.
“Every kid wants to be a cowboy,” he said. “You run around in your shorts and cowboy boots and cowboy hat. I think every kid, boys and girls, go through that. Sometimes it just sticks.”
Each night at Rodeo of the Ozarks dozens of kids gather at 6 o’clock to compete in events designed especially for them.
“We have mutton busting and goat dressing and a calf scramble,” Rick explained. “Mutton busting is for the four, five and six-year olds. Goat dressing is for the seven, eight and nine-year olds. The calf scramble is a lot of fun too.”
Rick said the kid competitions draw a lot of folks out for the unique events.
For those not familiar with the exciting events of kid rodeo, Rick outlined the competitions.
“Instead of a horse or bull, the kids ride a sheep,” he explained. “The sheep and kids come out of a chute. They have a rope on the sheep and the kids climb on and hold on to the rope. The kids get judged on who has the best and longest ride. They get judged and get a big trophy.”
“Kids have a shirt and a pair of shorts,” Rick said. “The kids go out as a team and catch the goat, dress it in the shorts and shirt and drag it back to a spot in the arena. It’s judged and timed. The first ones back across the line with the goat still in pants and a shirt are the winners.”
“In the calf scramble, a ribbon is tied to a calf’s tail,” he said. “There are 10 to 15 calves. You have kids on one end of the arena and the calves on the other end. You let calves go and the kids chase them and try to get the ribbon off the tails to win money.”
While bull riding, barrel racing and bronco busting are long-loved rodeo favorites, the kid events are a draw too.
“We have people who just want to come watch the kids,” Rick said. “It is a draw and people love it. We will bring back the nightly winners to the big Saturday night show and they get to ride in front of everybody.”