Friday, July 3, 2009

Mutton bustin’ gets the rodeo off and kicking

Hailey crowd enjoys kids riding sheep

Ever since the Sawtooth Rangers Riding Club started with mutton bustin' as the first event of its Days of the Old West Rodeo, it's been worth the effort to arrive early and watch kids riding some baffled sheep.

Or trying to ride them. It's not easy to stay aboard. But it's fun trying, for the kids and for the holiday audience watching the pre-rodeo entertainment during the July 2-4 rodeo in Hailey.

The rules are simple—bring your own helmet, and a kid has to weigh less than 45 pounds. Other than that, all you have to do is register with Madeline Amend (720-4534) at the rodeo office located at the northeast corner of Hailey Rodeo Arena. Parental approval is required.

It's free to enter and there are spots for 18 riders each night. You can pre-register with Amend starting at 5:30 p.m. today, Friday and on Saturday night at the arena. Sign up no later than 6:45 p.m. Mutton bustin' starts promptly (more or less) at 7 p.m.

Mutton bustin' has pretty much taken the place of local bullriding as a pre-rodeo crowd attraction in Hailey. Still, the Sawtooth Rangers have reserved one evening of what they call "Hometown Bullriding" for some local daredevils.

The 28th annual Hometown Bullriding competition will be held Saturday night in front of the expected standing-room-only crowd for the Independence Day rodeo. Entry fee is $25 for each daredevil. At stake is a silver belt buckle for the winning rider. There are six bulls for the Hometown contest. Sign up with Amend to take a try.

The 62nd annual Days of the Old West Rodeo had the first of its three 7:30 p.m. shows Thursday night in Hailey.

It's an Idaho Cowboys Association (ICA) and Intermountain Professional Rodeo Association (ImPRA) event. Stock contractor is Jay Hoggan's Red Eye Rodeo of Terreton, Idaho. Hailey is the sixth of 24 ImPRA rodeos starting June 5-6 at Green River, Wyo., and wrapping up with the Sept. 7-8 IMPRA finals.

Another crowd-pleasing segment will be the new Mini Bullriding contest featuring kids from about age 7 up to teenage. Amend said Casperson Mini Bulls puts on a little mini-bulls circuit each year. "The crowd is going to love the mini bulls. It's a hoot," said Amend.

The Wood River Lions Club will again provide food and beverages at the arena. No coolers are allowed.

Rodeo tickets are available at Atkinsons' Markets in Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue, or at the gate. General admission tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids ages 2-12. Reserved seating is $15 per person.

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