Fair closes with ranch rodeo
Hayden — Got milk?
That was the question announcer John Centner kept asking contestants during Sunday’s wild cow milking event, part of the annual ranch rodeo at the Routt County Fair.
Ranchers, competing in 13 teams of four, had to rope a cow and milk it. But as the title implies, the animals in questions were not tame milk cows.
After roping the cows, up to three men would hold onto the rope as one would try to get close enough to squirt milk into a beer bottle. The task had cowboys leaping from horses, being dragged across the arena holding onto the rope and taken for a ride as they wrapped their arms around the neck of a cow.
The clock didn’t stop until the rancher ran the bottle over to the judge and the rope came off the cow.
Wild cow milking was the final event at the ranch rodeo. Not only was it the hardest, it also was the event least likely to be done on an actual ranch. The other three events — team branding, steer doctoring and trailer loading — are legitimate ranch chores.
“The wild cow milking is extra fun. Every other event you get to do on a ranch every day,” said Jason Burns, who competed with the Saddleback Ranch and Elk Run teams.
At the end of the day, the Steamboat Vet Clinic team won the competition, with its members Lee Meyring, Spike Meyring, Gary Rodamore and Lonnie Shoemaker.
“It is so competitive. It is kind of just who had the lucky break. It is a lot of skill and a lot of luck involved,” Shoemaker said.
Burns, who works at the Strawberry Parks Farm, said it’s a chance for people to get together and visit, but the winner also gets the bragging rights for the year. The winning team walks away with belt buckles and trophy.
“We are cheering for each other, but it’s competitive,” Burns said.
Sunday was the last day of the weeklong fair. Looking out of the announcer’s booth, Fair Board member Peter Daley described it as a three-ring circus.
In the center of the outdoor arena were the ranch rodeo events, while the surrounding race track hosted horse and chariot races, and the outfield played home to carnival rides and booths.
Intermixed with the ranch rodeo were activities for younger participants, including the ever-popular mutton bustin’ in which youngsters see who can ride and ornery sheep the longest. The fair also sponsored catch-a-calf, catch-a-bunny and greased pig contests. The children get to keep the animals that they catch.
“A lot of people come out to see it. The tradition has been going on here for a long time. It just goes along with the heritage of the fair,” Daley said.
On Sunday morning, Cortni Denning was crowned as the Routt County Fair queen. Kimberlie Williamson was chosen as the alternate.
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