ST. GEORGE – For some, rodeo is more than just a competition or spectator sport – it’s a way of life; which is why three Southern Utah families pulled up their bootstraps and created the Southern Utah Junior Rodeo Association after learning that Dixie Junior Rodeo would not run spring events in 2015.
“We are hopeful that they will be back in the swing of things by fall,” said the new Junior Rodeo Association’s co-founder Darley Barrow. “But we just couldn’t wait that long, and if they aren’t up by then, we’ll have this going good so there will still be something for the kids to do in the meantime.”
SUJRA offers four age group categories: super peewees, ages 5 and under; peewees, ages 6-8; juniors, ages 9-10; and seniors, ages 12-14. Registration is now open and the first event will be held Feb. 27-28. See schedule and registration deadlines at the close of this report.
From barrels to dummy roping and flags to poles, Barrow said, each of the four age groups will have ample opportunity to show off their rodeo prowess. She said whether youthful cowboys and cowgirls are competing for fun, or for cash prizes, there is something fun for everyone who loves to play at the rodeo.
While the older children will each have five different events to compete in, the super peewees only do three events. Competing can be hard on super peewees, 5 and under, Barrow said, but it is important to give those children a chance to sink their teeth in while they’re young so they develop a love for the trade early on.
“It’s the cutest dang thing you’ll ever see, especially when they’re little,” Barrow said, explaining how the little ones run the goat ribbon pull event by jumping off of their horse, grabbing a ribbon from a goat’s tail and running it across the finish line.
Instead of letting the cancellation of Dixie Junior Rodeo’s spring events get her down, Barrow, a fifth-generation cattle farmer’s daughter, her cousin Virginia Bundy and friendsJeremy and Leslie Larson, who they met through Dixie Junior Rodeo, took on the challenge of providing an outlet for Southern Utah’s youth.
Establishing the organization as a nonprofit entity and raising funds through sponsorships have not been overnight ventures, but both Barrow and Bundy have said the community has shown a tremendous amount of support for the pint-sized rodeo.
Competition events are only a small part of the overall rodeo experience, Bundy said. The lessons learned by her 8-year-old son, Diesel Bundy, are the type of lessons that will endure into manhood, she said.
“A man who is kind to his horse will always know how to treat a lady,” she said.
Rodeo does much more than that, Barrow’s son Riggun Barrow said.
“It teaches me real good skills,” Riggun Barrow said, “like patience and how to be disciplined and hard work.”
Rodeo competition builds a sense of camaraderie between other rodeo members creating opportunities for teamwork building that will help later in high school, or even professional competitions.
“Diesel and Riggun are the same age, so they’re going to go to junior rodeo together and high school rodeo together,” Bundy said. “This is a great opportunity for them to build those relationships and build those team working skills together.”
Watching her children follow in her family footsteps is an emotional experience for Barrow that she said is difficult to put into words.
“My children love going out to the ranch with grandpa and pushing cattle,” she said. “In fact, they get real mad when grandpa goes without them.”
Preparing for rodeo events is a family affair that gives the Barrows more active time together. Along with Riggun Barrow, his 5-year-old sister, Reighley Barrow, has been riding rodeo style since she was three.
The rodeo family tradition is strong in both the Barrow and the Bundy families, which is why they said they were compelled to ensure there was an outlet for theirs and other families in the community who would be lost without a place to play.
Barrow said that rough stock riding is not a part of this season’s junior rodeo lineup yet, but it is just one event of many to come as the organization continues to grow in the years to come.
All events are scheduled to take place at Washington County Regional Park, South 5300 West, Hurricane, Utah.
For KCSG and St. George News, Melissa Anderson contributed the videocast to this story.
See resources below the photo gallery for competition and registration dates.
Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.
- Super peewees | ages 5 and under
- Peewees | ages 6-8
- Juniors | 9-10
- Seniors | 12-14
Competition and registration dates
- Feb 27-28 | register by Feb. 17, 2015
- March 20 | register by March 6, 2015
- April 17 | register by April 3, 2015
- May 8-9 | register April 24, 2015
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