Since the early 1950s, the Little Britches Youth Association has been offering youths in Elbert County and surrounding areas the opportunity to develop new skills and experience a taste of rodeo competition.
Like many organizations in Elbert …
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Like many organizations in Elbert County, LBYA runs on volunteers. Jamie Sketers, rodeo secretary for the LBYA, started volunteering when her own kids signed up to compete in the rodeos 15 years ago.
“My kids started there,” she said. “They aged out. They left. I stayed.”
To have enough volunteers for the eight-rodeo season to run effectively, the parents of the contestants are recruited.
“Parents must volunteer for at least three rodeos,” Sketers said. “We have some parents who will do every rodeo. If parents choose not to participate then they put the contestant's points at risk.”
In total, the LBYA offered 51 events this year in six categories. Contestants may sign up for a maximum of five events in each season. More than 90 cowboys and cowgirls have been competing since the season began at the Elbert County Fairgrounds on May 19, and adjusting for weather postponements, the rodeos are scheduled to continue at the fairgrounds every Tuesday evening through July 14.
Pee Wees, ages 5-9, compete in basic skills events such as goat tying, pole bending, and the trail course. Though competing in separate categories, all Pee-Wee events are open to both boys and girls. As the contestants grow, more physically challenging events are added for Juniors, ages 10-13, and Seniors, ages 14-18. The young women move in to barrel racing and the young men to chute dogging.
Chute dogging is similar to traditional steer wrestling, but without the horse. In the timed event, each competitor is paired with a steer in a bucking shoot. Time begins when the bucking shoot door is opened and stops when the cowboy successfully wrestles the steer to the ground.
“Generally speaking, we've had contestants from various abilities,” Sketers said. “We've had some of our contestants go on to compete at other national organizations. We've had a couple of chances to expose them to National Britches and win those finals.”
Awards for top hand are presented to contestants receiving the total number of overall points for all eight-rodeos. This year, LBYA has budgeted more than $20,000 in total prizes, which are made possible through contestant entry fees and from sponsors.
Prizes range from saddles and other riding tack to belt buckles. Winners are also permitted to trade their prize in exchange for a gift certificate at a sponsoring merchant.
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