LANDER – Last year there was an idea for a rodeo that took hold of people’s heart strings and grabbed their attention with the product that was put on the dirt. The Lander Memorial Youth Rodeo, originally meant to honor the likes of former cowboy Mike Ruby and other rodeo stars, returned for it’s second year at the Lander Rodeo Grounds.
Despite a heavy winter that kept local youth from practicing on their horses and steers, the numbers did not diminish much from the inaugural year filled with money awards and amazing prizes.
Chris Eberline, who has put the rodeo together the past two years, was initially worried about the numbers heading into the week but by the end of the registration period she had already confirmed nearly 130 kids total.
“I thought the hard winter and kids being unable to practice might make our numbers go a little down,” Eberline said. “But we had a lot of little guys and mutton busters … I had to shut down the bull riding because we ran out of bulls, we had 26 bull riders and over 30 mutton busters. It was great.”
Saddles were given away as prizes for each age, with a saddle dedicated to each of the memorialized rodeo stars from around Fremont County. Lonnie Mantle, Mike Ruby and Ronnie Givens all had their names posthumously put on saddles as awards, with Ruby’s grandson Aidan earning the one with Mantle’s name on it.
“It was pretty cool,” Eberline said about her family member. “Aidan won Lonnie’s and wanted to trade his for Mike’s … he even offered the kid an extra hundred bucks, he really wanted it.”
Eberline has now put this event on for two years in a row and given out thousands of dollars in cash as well as in prizes, but this year’s grand total reached over $12,000 as well as $6,000 worth of prizes.
“It was great and felt really good,” Eberline said about giving out so much to the local youth. “We also gave out bags to every kid from age two to five, it was stuffed with squirt guns, bubbles, chapstick, play-doh, hats, some stuff Stitches [Embroidery] made … it was a fun time.”
Kids from all over Fremont County, as well as Wyoming, came out to Lander to compete in barrel racing, bull riding, goat tail tying, team roping, steer daubing and more. All of which were able to win some cash to bring home, as well as prizes outside of saddles like belt buckles, customized cups and more.
All-in-all, the second annual Youth Memorial Rodeo was a complete success and helped countless kids get to learn more about rodeo as well as make some memories. Even better, Eberline said that many of the participants were all newer children who have never been in a rodeo before which made her extremely happy.
“We got a lot of new kids … they were able to try it out and get hooked, now we can make more rodeo junkies,” Eberline said with a laugh. “Seeing the kids from last year progress though, that’s my favorite part. They’ve practiced and they’re getting more ready. Now they know what to expect and to see their abilities improve and see them more dedicated, it was just great.”
In the end there was plenty of fun to be had in Lander at the Rodeo Grounds, a place that was full of rodeo fans just a few days before for Lander Pioneer Days. Also, now that Eberline has put on two separate rodeo events, the goals and hopes for next year’s third-annual rodeo could be even higher.
Below you can enjoy more photos courtesy of Olivia Prince, followed by results from the rodeo:
6-9: Briella Nicholls 32.953
10-13: Reina Givens 34.096
14-18: Faye Hellyer 32.963
6-9: Harper Nicholls 49.572
10-13: Hoyt Peil 46.302
14-18: Rozlyn Herren 44.843
6-9: Lincoln Shepperson 139 on 2
10-13: Eion Murray
14-18: Aidan Ruby
Goat Tail tying (6-9)
Tawni Nicholls 19.96
10-13: Eion Murray 36.52
14-18: Landon Gold 40.91
10-13: Raylyn Herren 21.71
14-18: Aislynn Vroman 22.75
6-9: Tawni Nicholls 20.59 on 1 head
10-13: Hoyt Peil 58.73 on 2
14-18: Aidan Ruby 21.74 on 2
6-9: Lincoln Shepperson 4.59
10-13: Hoyt Peil 3.34
14-18: Connor Weese 3.14
Break Away roping
6-9: Lincoln Shepperson 3.1
10-13: Rylyn Herren 4.0
14-18: Jordan Bonenburger 2.58
By: Shawn O’Brate