HURON — Riding and roping may be two of the main sources of fun and lively competition at the National Junior High Finals Rodeo (NJHFR), but while the contestants and their families aren’t in the rodeo arena, many have been taking part in the various activities provided across the South Dakota State Fairgrounds in Huron.
“Cinch Town,” has offered many lively games for the public to enjoy, including two mechanical bulls, electric ponies, giant jingo, corn-hole, plus a timed rodeo related obstacle course.
Chris Basti and Andy McCain held the reigns of the mechanical bull, working the electrics for not only the many contestants who participated daily, but also friends, family members and the youth of the community interested in taking part in the action.
“Contestants and kids come here with their families to have some fun, the weekend we opened, both bulls were running constantly and the lines were all the way to the back of the building,” explained Basti. “It’s for the kids in their down time, and we all really enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun - there’s a bunch of activities.”
“Ranch Olympics,” is a western style obstacle course by Corral Boots, where participants engage in friendly contests and work their way through circuits such as stacking hay bales, flipping a tire, a rope work out, then tossing the lasso on the dummy to finish. Each day, the competitors with the six fastest time records went home with prizes, and participants were also given a professional photo to take home.
The fastest western enthusiasts that took part won themselves a pair of Corral boots. Second placers claimed new t-shirts; following prizes were thermoses, hats and other attire.
Intern Reece Buckmaster of Weatherford, Okla., smiled, “The kids are competitive, so it’s a lot of fun for them to take part, and there’s always something fun to do.”
On the other side of the fairgrounds, the National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA) was working hard at giving back to the contestants, their families and the entire rodeo community with a silent auction for the NHSRA Crisis Fund, which offers support to those who have suffered any injury during rodeo events.
“The NHSRA Crisis Fund helps cowboys and cowgirls who are injured at rodeos,” shared South Carolina National Director and Crisis Fund Chairman Lori Peyton. “We had a little boy who got hurt just the other day, so he will benefit from the Crisis Fund, he broke his leg dismounting his horse.”
Each state, country or provence that attended the NJHFR was encouraged to donate a basket with items that represent where they traveled from, with a total of 44 generous displays from the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Australia. The collections which were donated to the Crisis Fund were sold in a silent auction, which closed Thursday afternoon.
“This is the first year we have the Hard Luck Scholarships for anyone who’s basket raises $250,” said Peyton. “They bring us $250, we give em’ back $250. It is for anybody that has bad luck, similar to the crisis fund. This way we help them out through education.”