By MAGGIE MCMURRAY
Moapa Valley Progress
Where can you find all the excitement of a regular rodeo packed into a pint-sized package of fun? At the Clark County Fair.
Mutton Bustin’ is one of the Fair’s most popular events for good reason. Even though there are spots still available for 120 hopeful contestants, they fill up quickly. So if your pint-sized rodeo hopeful is interested the earlier you register, the better.
The event is open to both girls and boys ages 4-7 who weigh under 60 pounds. Age and weight restrictions are strictly enforced both for the safety of the riders and the mutton they hope to be bustin’.
Mutton bustin’ is a junior rodeo with miniature cowboys and their wild, wooly mounts. Kids see if they have what it takes to ride a rampaging sheep for 6 seconds.
They are each judged on skill and style, much like their full-size rodeo counterparts. There are even barrels, clowns, and miniature bucking chutes sized perfectly for the sheep they are designed to hold.
Riders are required to wear protective gear, which is provided for them by the fair. This includes helmets and protective vests. Chaps are also provided for those who wish to wear them.
Although it is certainly easier to hang on to a sheep that is still sporting her long winter coat, occasionally mounts show up with a recent haircut. In these instances, riders may choose to use a rope to help them hang on.
Those who choose this option should definitely familiarize themselves with the new rules instituted this year for safety reasons. All buckaroos who choose to use a rope must remain in a sitting position (no laying down). And the rope has to be a loose rope.
This year management will also strictly enforce the one parent rule with each rider in the arena area. Of course, the other parent, and as many friends and family as they want to bring, are welcome in the stands to cheer on their favorite cowhand
No junior cowpoke goes away empty handed. Some even come out big winners. There is a $15 fee to register. All the money is put into a pot for prizes. Even riders who hit the dirt early will walk away with a $5 paycheck and a cool limited edition CC Fair mutton bustin’ T-shirt, just for trying.
Every day is a new day in the mutton bustin’ arena. Every daily round has 15 competitors. Five finalists will be chosen each day.
The event is organized and run by long-time mutton bustin’ volunteer Stuart Riggins, along with the help of several volunteers willing to give their time.
Riggins said that one of his favorite things about the event is watching kids face their fears and grow tremendously from the first bell to the final buzzer.
“The value in this event is that kids learn to succeed,” Riggins said. “You can actually see them grow and overcome their fears right there. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen little boys grow to be little men by the time they reach the end of the arena.”
Besides being a great growing experience, however, the event is also a lot of fun for everyone.
““It’s popular for a reason,” Riggins said. “Winning is a combination of luck, ability, and determination, but every ride is an opportunity to grow and every kids walks out of here a winner in some way. We’re grateful that kids want to participate, we’re grateful for our volunteers, and we’re grateful for our sponsors that make this event possible every year.”
Riggins would like to thank Lins Marketplace and Washington Federal Credit Union for being this year’s big sponsors. If you feel your child would be interested in participating, register them as soon as possible to make sure there are spots available.
To register, go to ccfair.com and click on the rodeo tab at the top. Under rodeo, click on mutton bustin’. The application and schedule are highlighted in blue. There is also an address to submit mail-in entries to.