The Elizabeth Stampede gets an early start this weekend with its annual Community Rodeo at Casey Jones Park on May 20-21, where competitions are held with a focus on community participation.
Lone Tree resident and real-estate broker Don Martin serves on the Stampede Board. He is also a sponsor of the Stampede.
“A lot of local cowboys and cowgirls compete in smaller associations, so they (the Stampede committee) have created a second weekend for that,” Martin said. “I ran with it a year ago and it was there was an explosion with it. There was a huge crowd last year and we expect to magnify that this year.”
The May 20 events will start at noon with team ropin’. The Grand Entry competition will begin at 6:30 p.m. and includes bareback, saddleback, bulls, chute doggin’ and mutton bustin’ competitions.
“Chute doggin’ is just like steer wrestling, except you don’t jump on the horse, and then you wrestle it (the steer) to the ground,” Martin explained. “We call out volunteers from the crowd to do it. We had like 25 people come down last year.”
“This year we have a couple of deputies from the Elbert County sheriff and a couple guys from the fire department to come down and do it. We’re going to make it a friendly competition kind of thing,” Martin said.
The night of May 20 will wind up with a dance from 9 p.m until 1 a.m. with live country music by Richie Law.
May 21 is dedicated to youth competitions with the first annual All Youth Rodeo.
Barrel racing will start at 9 a.m. and Grand Entry will begin at 1 p.m., where contestants will show their mettle in the mini bareback, mini saddle bronc, mini bulls, calf riding and mutton bustin’ competitions.
Contestants are judged by two judges, and part of their score is determined by the behavior of the animal.
“How hard it is to ride, how good he bucks. If he just goes out there and runs around that isn’t going to get a very high score,” Martin explained.
“For example, bareback and saddle — the rider has to have the spurs by the front of the shoulder, that’s called `being set,’” Martin said. “They have to keep them there until the first jump, and after that they start spurring in rhythm with the horse.”
“Every time the back feet of the animal go up, the feet of the rider should be forward. They’re in tune with the horse at that point. If they did it the other way, it’d want to throw them forward,” Martin said.
Although there is an element of danger involved, “it’s in their blood,” Martin said.
Every contestant wears the mandatory helmet and safety vest. For the youths there are more protective people in the arena than with the adult competitions. “So if they get hung up or have a problem, we have two on horseback and several on the ground to get to them quickly,” Martin said.
It’s clear that Martin is a forever fan.
“My friend’s kid said last weekend, `Getting bucked off hurts but when you win, it don’t hurt so bad!’”
This year’s Elizabeth Stampede will be June 2-4.