An unexpectedly large number of competitors at Benalto Junior Rodeo meant organizers faced a race against time to ensure all events were finished before the start of the pro rodeo Friday.
Co-organizer Rhonda Vick said the number of participants was surprising to organizers, but she was “very happy” to see the event run so well, despite the significant increase in numbers from last year.
“We had no idea we were going to have that many kids,” she said. “It made it very challenging, but it went really smoothly and we were out of there in time.”
Vick said 109 registrations were received. Last year, numbers were in the low seventies.
“It was a big jump,” she said.
Participants do not register in advance but sign up on the day of events.
Success of the rodeo was attributed to Shadow Riders 4-H Club, whose members volunteered their time throughout the day.
“They ran the rodeo, basically,” she said. “They’re just patient, they know how to handle an increase in numbers, and it’s awesome.
“There’s no way (the junior rodeo) would’ve run like it did without them.”
Vick said she wasn’t sure of the cause behind this year’s sharp increase in participation.
Speaking with members of other rodeo committees, however, she’s learned that junior rodeos throughout the province also seem to be growing in popularity.
“They’re saying the same thing, that numbers are way up for junior rodeos this year,” she said. “It’s really cool that the interest is really there.”
The junior rodeo began with goat tail tying at 10 a.m., and concluded around 4:30 p.m. after competitions in barrel racing, breakaway roping, mutton busting, pole bending, goat tying and wild pony racing.
High point buckle winners were: Madison Hickey, 8 and under; Codi Wilson, 9 to 12; and Martina Holtkamp, 13 to 16.