Friday, July 25, 2014

Pioneer Day at the children's rodeo in Wallsburg Utah

We weren't quite sure what we were going to do to celebrate Pioneer Day (July 24th is a state holiday in Utah in commemoration of the day Brigham Young and his band of pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847). Hikes and parades were quickly vetoed by some younger members of the family. Then Uncle Lant called and invited us to join him at the Wallsburg children's rodeo. He and his wife had attended last year during their first summer in their new Provo Canyon home at the invitation of ward members from Wallsburg. The Pritchett's home places them in the Wallsburg LDS ward--about 10 miles away on the other side of Deer Creek reservoir. Wallsburg is a tiny farming town in the center of a small dead-end valley. The road in from Deer Creek dead-ends in town. Earlier in the week Uncle Lant hosted some east coast colleagues in his home to work on a research project. He tried to convince them to stay one extra day to attend the rodeo. He said these colleagues travel the world over to see exotic cultures and this rodeo, he said, was a good slice of exotic, rural, western, American culture. Lant was right.

First event was goat roping. The bleating goat was tethered by rope to a post. The kids rode down and then had to grab the goat and tie three legs together.  Years ago one of the Wallsburg families adopted five brothers from Guinea in West Africa. These boys have been raised just like all the other kids in Wallsburg, as ranchers and cowboys.

Next up barrel racing: circle three barrels and then race back.

The third event was hide riding. One person drags a mat (originally a cow hide) along behind the horse. Then the youth jumps on the passing hide and rides it through the dust back to the finish line. Some kids were smart and wore goggles, ATV helmets, stocking caps and other protective gear.

Then there was the chicken and rabbit race. First the young kids scoured the arena for scared-to-death chickens and rabbits. What ever they caught they could keep. Then the older kids did the same, Will almost got brave enough to join in but then "chickened" out (Joel and Will are on a pun kick). He was only willing to consider joining in with the mostly local crown because I told him he could keep any rabbit he caught. His follow up question was whether or not his mother would agree. I said that since she wasn't there (she was working on a wedding present quilt) she could not veto dad.

Next was "man on a barrel" in which a boy or girl stands on a barrel and then a rider comes and rescues them by having the person on the barrel jump on the back of the horse.


This was the winning/fastest pair. A father with his brave young daughter who he just grabbed off the barrel and carried to the finish line. 

This daughter took a leap and nearly flew off the other side almost dragging her dad with her, but she and he held on and she then swung back onto the horse.

It was during this event the Lant noted (what I had also been noticing) how equally involved girls were in all the events as compared to years ago when rodeo was mostly a man thing. Women did barrel racing but that was about it. In tiny, rural Wallsburg of today, girls roped goats, chased chickens, slid on hides, and leaped from barrels with the best of the boys and no one batted an eye. No one said girls shouldn't be doing that or can't be doing that. It seemed as natural as can be. It was also as natural as can be to cheer on black brothers born in Africa. Things are a changing. Who know what other changes as in store?

Happy cousins eating snow cones.

The final event was musical chairs in which men ride down around a barrel  and then back where they have to grab a seat on a chair (standard issue folding chairs from the local LDS chapel) while holding on to the reins of their horse. The one who doesn't get seated loses.

We continued our celebration at the Pritchett's community pool. Then that evening we joined with many neighbors at the annual "Fire and Ice" celebration in which we all eat homemade ice cream and watch fireworks. A fun day.

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