Youth can find lots of fun opportunities during Western Days

By : 
GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY
CHATFIELD NEWS

High ho, Woolly!

Let’s saddle up and ride!

“We’ve added activities like mutton busting – which we turned over to the Lions a few years ago – because we want to get those little kids involved in Western Days, have more family activities,” related Chatfield Western Days Committee member Pam Bluhm, speaking of the mutton busting taking place in Mill Creek Park during the 2018 Western Days celebration.

She said the committee first proposed riding high on sheep’s backs several years ago, but the committee was looking for a local organization to oversee the wild action because the committee already has plenty to round up for the annual Western Days celebration.

When Chatfield’s Lions Club first began sponsoring the romp in 2014, then-president Dean Hilsman explained it was being done as a fundraising event. “Mutton busting has become popular lately as a fun family event at fairs and town celebrations – it’s a sheep rodeo, with the children trying to stay on the sheep until the bell rings,” he said. “We hired a professional company who has run this program in many surrounding communities.”

“Professional” means that it isn’t just little kids attempting to get their eight seconds in the saddle. There’s registration for children, 5 through 8 years old, there’s a 75-pound weight limit, and safety helmets and vests are provided so that the landing, when the sheep has finally had enough, isn’t hard.

Hilsman commented at the outset that families should make the Lions’ mutton busting part of their Western Days Thursday evening because it’s fun to watch, and the children seem to enjoy the competition.

“I’m not sure how the sheep feel about it, but people will enjoy cheering on their favorite contestant and the overall excitement of a rodeo. It’s quite a challenge for these children to ride a sheep, and it’s entertaining to watch,” Hilsman said.

Mutton busting is set to shoot from the chute in Mill Creek Park on Thursday, Aug. 9, at 7 p.m., with registration on the calendar for 6:30 p.m. at the event gate. Again, it’s open to children, 5 through 8 years old, and 75 pounds and under.

This year, all participants are asked to bring an item for the Chatfield Community Food Shelf as an entry contribution. Saddle up and ride Woolly and the gang, while helping hungry neighbors in the community.

More fun to be had

Bluhm pointed out that the Western Days weekend also doesn’t have to mean that young buckaroos and betties have to stand around waiting for their parents to stop talking with the neighbors in the park or at the parade.

“We do the mutton busting on Thursday because of the horse show on Sunday. Most everything is on Sunday, but we’re trying to figure out what events to add on Thursday, too,” she said. “There’s the carnival coming to town on Thursday through Sunday in City Park, with armbands on Friday evening and Sunday, and we’re having the kiddie parade on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. in City Park – that’s always fun because there are little kids riding their bicycles and in decorated wagons — and we have a coloring contest, too, where the pages are sent out to kids at Valleyland and daycares, and we hand out pages at the Chatfield News office, too. We have a couple of pages that kids can pick from, and if they return them, they can get a sucker or a candy bar. We’re hoping to use them to decorate the windows downtown.”

Additionally, Bluhm observed, “We’re trying to make Sunday a day for kids in the park. They can play in the park, listen to music, go on the carnival rides.”

There’s a coin find for kids 10 and under on Sunday at 10 a.m. on the corner near St. Mary’s Church, and the pedal pull is at 11 a.m., with registration at 10:30 a.m. That’s sponsored by Hammell Equipment and Computer Danamics.

For the older pardners too big to mutton bust, there’s a gathering at the Bernard Bus Garage as usual – the KROC Music on Wheels Under-21 Dance slated for Friday, Aug. 10, at 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Admission is $5 and includes a dance contest with special illumination lights. The event is alcohol-, tobacco- and skateboard-free, sponsored by the Chatfield Booster Club, Bernard Bus, Sunshine Foods, Dairy Queen and CHS Chatfield, and will be held rain or shine.

For more information on kid- and teen-friendly Western Days events, log onto the Chatfield Western Days Facebook page, call Pam Bluhm at 507-867-3870 or email chatwesterndays@gmail.com.