Lots of roping, riding, wrangling planned during Progress Days

Posted: Monday, July 21, 2003

Like the lyrics of a Garth Brooks song, Kenai Peninsula residents can look forward to the bulls and the blood, the dust and the mud, and the roar of a Sunday crowd this July 26 and 27.

The roping, riding and wrangling gets under way with the Cowboy Roundup Series Rodeo No. 3, part of this year's Progress Day festivities.

"We're expecting another good turnout," said Kathleen Kitson, rodeo director for the Soldotna Equestrian Association.

She said last year's rodeo brought out huge crowds of participants from all over the state more than 150 contestants in barrel racing alone.

For those not familiar with the sport of rodeo, barrel racing is when contestants on horseback compete for the fastest time in running a triangular, cloverleaf pattern around three barrels.

There also will be pole bending, which is very much like an equestrian slalom. Horse and rider compete for the fastest time weaving through a linear pattern of six-foot high poles.

Of course, no rodeo could be complete without a little roping, and there will be numerous roping events at this year's rodeo.

"We'll have a few new events too," said Kitson. "The bull riding will be a jackpot this year. All the participants put in $25 and whoever stays on eight seconds and has the best ride, wins the pot."

The white knuckle excitement of bull riding isn't just for the adults this year.

Children 11 to 16 years old can give it their best go by riding a steer, and kids 10 and under can try staying on the back of a bucking calf.

Other events for children will include the calf scrabble, in which they attempt to get a ribbon from the tail of a loose calf; the saw dust pile, in which they attempt to find $150 in change in a mound of sawdust; and the ever popular three-legged race.

"We'll also have the hide race," said Kitson. "Kids hold onto a cow hide that's being dragged behind a horse and the fastest time wins." It's always a comical event, she said.

"We've had kids cross the finish line under the hide, but they were still holding on," she said.

The rodeo is open to anyone whether they be rodeo folks, regular town folks or tourists.

"We get a lot of tourists that come wan-ting to see how Alaskans do rodeo," said Kitson.

The event will be held at the Soldotna Rodeo Grounds off Kalifornsky Beach Road, just east of the Soldotna Sports Center.

Festivities kick off at 2 p.m. on Saturday following the parade, and will begin Sunday at 1 p.m.

Admission will be $6 for adults, and 3 for children. For more information, call 262-3759.

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