Young rodeo hopefuls descended upon the Jefferson County Fairgrounds on Saturday for the 52nd Annual Cowdeo. The familiar cheers and smiles emanated from the Fairgrounds arena throughout the day as kids aged 5 through 14 competed in 18 different rodeo events. It was a welcome return after the event was canceled in 2020, and not just for fair coordinator Brian Crow — but for the entire community.
"The 2021 Cowdeo was a huge success," Crow said after the event. "Contestant numbers were up 50% and spectator attendance was nearly double our 2019 numbers."
Before the event started, emcee Kelly Simmelink read a passage and heralded in a moment of silence for the late Delford Johnson, who passed earlier this year and had been heavily involved in the Cowdeo. Joining Simmelink during the honors were Johnson's grandchildren, 12-year-old Kas Johnson and six-year-old Boots Raccoon, as well as Delford's horse. Hours later, in an ending fit for a fairytale, Boots actually ended up winning the prestigious All-Around Saddle — top prize at the Cowdeo — for his performances in the arena.
The young prodigy placed in five of six PeeWee events to secure the win on Saturday, including winning the PeeWee Barrel Riding event and placing second in PeeWee Goat Tail Undecorating. During the Barrel Riding run, Boots rode his grandfather's horse, making his victory even sweeter. Kas also did well on Saturday, winning the Senior Scurry Race.
Following Boots Raccoon in the PeeWee Barrel Race were Ava Finley, Kimber Joachim, Kane Robinson, Paisley Jennings and Jasper Hartman. Robinson won the PeeWee Goat Undecorating event, followed by Boots Raccoon, Treyvon Moore and Colton Rydman, with Jennings and Joachim placing fifth and sixth, respectively. As for the riding events, Arthur Phillips won the PeeWee Sheep Riding event, with Timber Sweeney, James Hernandez, Christopher Sweeney, Wylee David and Gage Tremblay not far behind. In the PeeWee Calf Riding event, Kale Tremblay was victorious, followed closely by Avery McNamee, Boots Raccoon, Luke Talbott, Landon Eaton and Brookylnn Downing. In the final PeeWee event, Horseless Calf Roping, Avery McNamee came away as the winner. Following McNamee were Colton Rydman, Eileen Dickson, Paisley Jennings, Wylie Brisbois and Boots Raccoon.
The PeeWees were far from the only contestants at the rodeo, though, even if one of them took home the prized saddle. There were also Junior events for riders ages 9 to 11, as well as Senior events for older kids ages 12 to 14.
The Smith-Giovanini twins showed out well in the Junior events, with Brinlee winning the Horseless Calf Roping event and Callie winning the Junior Barrels. Callie came in second place in both the Horseless Calf Roping and Junior Calf Riding events, too.
Following the sisters in the Junior Horseless Calf Roping placement were Hugh Hill, Brody Bomke, Talley Towell and Bella Countryman. Behind Callie Smith-Giovanini in the Junior Barrels were Charlee Mitchell, Joletta Begay, Xienna Schade, Julia Rydman and Bella Countryman. Charlee Mitchell was the winner of the Junior Flag Race, with Callie Smith-Giovanini, Bella Countryman, Emmett Oliver, Addie McNamee and Talley Towell coming up next. Finally, in the Junior Calf Riding event, Emmett Oliver was the big winner. He beat out Callie Smith-Giovanini, Bella Countryman, Hayden Cooley and Jackson Bidwell.
On the Senior side, there were just three events: Barrel Racing, Cow Riding and the Scurry Race. Tallie Wood was fastest around the barrels, with Brooklin Bender, Kelsea Bomke, Tristan Sutherlin, Joslyn Lewis and Peyton Hinshaw placing behind her. On the cows, it was Justin England who grabbed the glory, besting Greyson Kline, Kelsea Bomke, Apaulo Blueback, Kendall Kline and Brayden Countryman for the saddle. Kas Johnson took first in the Senior Scurry Race and was followed by Kelsea Bomke, Tristan Sutherlin, Tallie Wood, Emma Brandau and Peyton Hinshaw.
The event will be back next fall for the 53rd Annual Cowdeo at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
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