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Despite COVID pandemic, Paulina amatuer rodeo enjoys one of its best attendances

LON AUSTIN - Jasper Hartman can feel his ride slipping away during the sheep riding competition.

This year's Paulina Amateur Rodeo was one for the ages.

Paulina has held a rodeo over Labor Day weekend every year for more than 70 years. However, that streak was in doubt this year when COVID-19 canceled many sports events, including Prineville's Crooked River Roundup.

But the Paulina community was determined to host a rodeo — and host they did.

Just to get onto the rodeo grounds, people had to sign a COVID waiver. That didn't stop fans or contestants from making the trip to Paulina. This year's rodeo had one of the largest crowds in years, but even more important, had the largest and possibly best group of cowboys and cowgirls in years.

Three former National Final Rodeo contestants won events at this year's rodeo, and they were far from the only talent that made the trek to the Upper Country.

Saturday was an entertaining rodeo with the announcer repeatedly calling the rodeo the Paulina Peaceful Protest Rodeo. Also, in a joking manner, spectators were told to remember that alcohol kills COVID, so drink up. With the crowd excited to be at a live sports event after no athletics this spring and summer, the contestants were well received regardless of their success.

As exciting as Saturday was, it was Sunday that produced most of the event winners.

Both days started with sheep riding, and Scarlett Goodwin, of Redmond, who rode on Sunday, came away with first place.

Next came calf roping. This time the winner rode on Saturday. Indigo Sappington, of Bend, won with a time of 10.3 seconds, edging out Prineville's Dayton Stafford, who finished with a time of 10.4 seconds.

Sappington, along with Dave Inman, also of Bend, won again Saturday afternoon, taking first in the 7 ½ ACTRA Roping that was held after the rodeo proper. The two wins propelled Sappington to the men's all-around title.

Also on Saturday, Charlea Giovanini, of Prineville, rode to first place, winning the kids 9-12 calf riding. Giovanini defeated her two older sisters to take the win.

One other noteworthy performance on Saturday was in bull riding, where Cody Havely, of Redmond, posted a score of 76, good enough to win the event.

Saturday produced just one more winner when Tiersyn Kafka, of Crane, won the kids 9U barrel racing with a time of 17.1 seconds, a time that would have been fast enough to win Saturday's round of the open barrel racing.

From that point on, performances were dominated by Sunday competitors.

Austin Foss, of Redmond, one of the former National Finals Rodeo competitors, took first place in bareback riding, while Joe Scott III, of Madras, won the saddle bronc event.

Quenton Adkins, of Burns, held on to take first in ranch bronc riding, while Lauren Layva, of Prineville, won the breakaway roping.

Katy McKay, of Powell Butte, came away with first place in the open barrel racing competition while Tim Thomas and Cole Ovens, of Paulina, took first in the wild cow milking.

Micah Wilson and Ken Thomas won the local team roping while Ryann Mitchell, of Powell Butte, took first in the kids 10-14 barrel racing.

The final winners in this year's rodeo were Brandon Beers and Russell Cordoza, both of Redmond. They captured the open team roping. Both ropers have previously competed in the National Finals Rodeo.

Tommy Hoyecki won the women's all-around title.

Midway through the competition each day, the rodeo stopped to pay tribute to Upper Country residents and rodeo contestants and supporters who have passed on, with Carl Schnabele introduced as this year's old-timer. Autumn Coffelt was the winner of the Paulina Rodeo Club Scholarship, while TC Hammock was awarded the Roy Hale Memorial Scholarship.

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