Before the main events can begin, the Sheridan WYO Rodeo features a pre-rodeo game to draw in a youth audience. This year, before the commencement of the actual rodeo, children will be able to participate in the Kids Calf Scramble.
The new pre-rodeo event is unlike other youth events the people of Sheridan and tourists have seen before. The Kids Calf Scramble will replace the Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard that the rodeo featured last year. The Kids Calf Scramble has been likened to flag football, except with cows. About half an hour before the rodeo begins, kids 10 years old and younger are invited into the arena for the light-hearted competition. There is no limit to the number of kids that can participate in the event.
The game begins with a number of calves in the arena. Each baby cow will have a flag of sorts attached to its tail. Upon the signal from the event supervisor, the calves will be released and all the children participating in the event can chase them down. The goal is to apprehend the flags from each of the cows. Every child who captures a flag will receive a prize.
Nick Siddle, president of the rodeo board, picked up the idea for this event from his lengthy experience with rodeo events around Wyoming.
“When I was a kid, there were nightly rodeos in Cody, Wyoming. This is something Sheridan hasn’t seen, but definitely something I saw there in Cody,” Siddle said. “It gives the kids something to be excited about and something to talk about. Kids love to be a part of things.”
Involving children in the rodeo is something that the rodeo board wants to focus on this year. While the youngsters might only be thinking about snatching that flag and winning a prize, they are simultaneously “building positive memories associated with the rodeo,” Siddle said.
One local child has already been doing just that for many years now. Cord Harman, 8-year-old son of Sheridan High School teacher Beth Harman, has been involved with rodeo since he was just a toddler.
“I like rodeoing with my family and training my horse. Training my horse is my favorite part,” Cord Harman said. “You really have to work and train your horse and practice a lot to do it right.”
Harman has competed in goat tying, calf riding, pole bending, ranch team sorting and barrel racing in his young career.
“I’m just starting to rope. I can’t wait until I can tie-down calf rope,” Cord Harman said. “I don’t know what [the Kids Calf Scramble] is but I would try it.”
Another goal for this event is to have families arrive early to the rodeo and build energy in the crowd. Senior Sheridan WYO Rodeo Princess Katie Bammel will be at the rodeo helping with the contestants and giving out prizes.
“I am excited for this event. There should be a huge turnout and tons of energy between the kids, handlers and the audience,” Bammel said. “This event will provoke the energy and excitement in the crowd. As we say the Cowboy Prayer at the start of the rodeo, there will be more heart and soul going into those verses due to the energy those kids started during the calf scramble.”
Bammel implies that children tend to build stronger connections with the rodeo when they are immersed in it.
“It’s important for kids to be involved in the rodeo due to the rodeo being the lifestyle of the West,” Bammel said. “After doing this, the kids will always have rodeo in their blood, and they will be able to pass this important cultural tradition down to their kids.”
Cord Harman’s older sister, Quinn Harman, has a similar outlook. Quinn Harman, who is 12 years old, has been a part of rodeo since she could ride.
“I love horses, and I like being able to push myself to do better every time I get on a horse. And I like the friends I make. They are like me and love rodeo,” Quinn Harman said. “It is the best sport. You are friends with your competition, and not many sports are like that.”
The Sheridan WYO Rodeo board anticipates the Kids Calf Scramble will accomplish all of these goals and provide a fun pre-rodeo game for the children involved.
By Marissa Brenneman