Junior Rodeo takes over Plains Arena

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    HAILEY WEIBLE takes a tight turn around the first barrel in the Barrel Race event. (Erin Jusseaume/Clark Fork Valley Press)

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    HAILEY WEIBLE takes a tight turn around the first barrel in the Barrel Race event. (Erin Jusseaume/Clark Fork Valley Press)

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The South West Junior Rodeo Association of Montana took to the Sanders County Fairgrounds arena in force last weekend for their junior rodeo.

With more tha 75 kids riding in the two-day event, the action was non-stop.

Junior competitors from as young as 5 years-old to 18 took part in the Plains stop of their buckle series.

“We like to be the beginning of the ladder for these kids, whether they want to only go to High School or College level, or even make a career out of being a rodeo competitor. It’s important that we help foster their ambitions,” said Peggy Smith, President of the Association.

Smith was also heard on the microphone as she stepped in to announce the event.

Though the weather was a lot warmer than one would hope for, that didn’t stop competitors from giving it their all in every event.

From pole bending to goat tying, times were quick and one could see just how strong the competition is in rodeo here in Montana.

“All our [event] stops host a two day event, and the kids are competing for end of year prizes,” said Smith. “We aim to encourage all our kids to aim for that gold buckle at the end of the season, but we’re also able to obtain a number of other prizes so all competitors have a good chance to win something.”

One year, the association was given 24 quilts to hand out as end-of-year prizes. With the travelling that is involved, it is a prize that can always travel with them in the trailer.

Though the numbers aren’t great for locals around the Plains area, the McAllister family (of Hot Springs) sure picked up the slack as they were involved in nearly every event.

Young Jack McAllister is one young standout rodeo athlete as he also recently competed in Tennessee at the National Junior High School Finals.

Mom Tammy had said that Jack and the family were fortunate to have met a bunch of new rodeo buddies with Jack also meeting the Australian rodeo team.

“This association is a building block, not just for competition but for friendships as well,” said Ty Erickson, PRCA Steer Wrestler and former member of the South West Junior Rodeo Association of Montana. “I learned how to compete, how to win, and more importantly how to loose,” continued Erickson (who currently is ranked No. 1 in the world).

“There are a lot of expenses for parents, as far as travelling, feed, up keep and so forth, but for these kids in Montana, they really have a unique way of learning and understanding of what it takes to rodeo,” said Erickson

Though he is on the road most of the year, Erickson said that he holds a lot of appreciation for what he learned in the association and knows first hand any competitor can make it to the big time.

With circuit finals just around the corner, there are still a couple more stops in the series before the kids battle it out for a gold buckle title.

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