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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Kids kick off Santa Maria Elks rodeo today

Cody Snow tracks down a calf as he competes during the breakaway roping event at the 2005 Santa Maria Elks Mini Rodeo. Snow won the 12-and-under breakaway championship. Snow partnered with Ron Donlon on April 3 of this year to win the inaugural Van Snow Memorial Junior-Senior Team Roping event that honors Dr. Van Snow — Cody’s father — who died last year in a plane crash.

Kids kick off Santa Maria Elks rodeo today
By Elliott Stern
The next generation of rodeo stars kicks off the 68th edition of the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo this morning.

The arena will be packed.

Thousands of people will be there.

There won’t be an empty seat.

This performance has no admission fee but there is one catch — it is only for people with a special invitation.

To get in, you have to be an elementary school student.

The Elks will bus in thousands of youngsters for one of the best field trips they’ll ever get to take.

“We’re expecting over 6,000 kids to pack the Elks Unocal Events Center,” said event organizer Marcey Teixeira Chaves.

This is a for-kids-only event — and that includes the competitors.

It’s the annual Elks Mini Rodeo where children — this year from as young as four years old — compete for rodeo championships in front of a crowd of youngsters from all the local elementary schools.

“We’ll have more than 25 young cowboys and cowgirls competing for championship gold-and-silver buckles in seven different events — Junior-Junior Team Roping, 13 to 17-year old Breakaway Roping, 12-and-under Breakaway Roping, 13 to 17-year old Barrel Racing, 10 to 12-year old Barrel Racing, 7 to 9-tear old Barrel Racing and 6-and-under Barrel Racing,” said Chaves, who is now all grown up but was once a Mini Rodeo competitor herself who later went on to win a nationa college All-Around championship while a student-athlete at Cal Poly. “Some rough riders will also be on hand. The Mini Rodeo will feature demonstrations in Saddle Bronc and Bull Riding.”

In addition to the youthful competition, the crowd gets the full rodeo treatment.

As with the four adult rodeo performances that will follow the Mini Rodeo, Kent Lane will kick off the action by skydiving into the arena with a giant American Flag.

Hall of Fame rodeo announcer Bob Tallman will be in the arena to call the action which will include John Payne’s One Armed Bandit specialty act.

“There will be a special tribute to the late Clarence Minetti, the man behind the original Mini Rodeo,” said Chaves. “After Lane lands with the American Flag, some of Minetti’s great grandchildren will be featured in the arena — 9-year old Regan Fowler will present the American Flag, 9-year old Kayla Minetti will present the Far Western flag and 12-year old Brooke Minetti will present the Minetti Brand flag.”

And one of the rodeo’s favorite events will be held — Mutton Bustin’

The two-dozen competitors in today’s buckle runs had to earn their spots in today’s finals.

There were so many local young cowboys and cowgirls that the organizers had to hold qualifying rounds on Saturday, April 3. There were nearly 100 youngsters who took part.

To keep today’s Mini Rodeo to a reasonable length, some champions won their buckles at the April 3 event.

In the 13-17 pole bending, Emily Mangione won the championship with a 21.132-second run. Carly Cargill came in second with Ali Bilkey third, Corrin Bowman fourth and Meghann McNulty fifth.

In 10-12 pole bending, Sarah Nance took the title with a 21.626 second run. She was followed by Aubree Scobie, Darbie Pond, Rileigh Wullbrandt and Trew Mitchell.

In the 7-9 pole bending, Fallon Ruffoni took first place with a 23.296 second run. Coming in behind her were Sutton Mang, Carissa Cuellar and Kayden Kaiser.

In 6-and-under pole bending, Halee Harrison won with a time of 23.908 seconds. Haleigh Grant finished second followed by Emily Ward, Makenna Machado and Hazen Gardner.

The Keyhole champions were also crowned on April 3.

In the 13-17 keyhole, Corrin Bowman won in a time of 9.561 seconds. No other competitors posted complete runs.

In the 10-12 keyhole, Cutter Machado took first in 7.758 seconds.

Machado was followed by Trew Mitchell, Aubree Scobie, Rileigh Wullbrandt and Madison Wineman.

Carissa Cuellar won the 7-9 keyhole title in 8.914 seconds. She was followed by Karli Huguenard, Aubrey Luis, Bobbie Monighetti and Kayden Kaiser.

6-and-under keyhole was won by Makenna Machado in 9.190 seconds. Machado was followed by Hazen Gardner, Sage Pearce, Kennedi Gamble and Sophia Patino.

The first Van Snow Memorial Junior-Senior Team Roping event was also held at the April 3 event.

The Memorial honors the late Dr. Van Snow, a well-known Santa Ynez Valley veterinarian who died last year in a plane crash.

“The first Van Snow Memorial champions were the team of Cody Snow and Rob Donlon,” said Chaves “Cody Snow is Dr. Snow’s son who teamed up with Santa Maria Elks team roping champions Donlon to win the four-round event in a total time of 23.75 seconds.”

They topped 16 other local junior-senior combinations with Ali Bilkey and Ron Garcia finishing second and Tristen Ruffoni teaming with Rob Donlon for third.

Mini Rodeo activities begin at 8:45 this morning when first livestock then bulls will be allowed to roam the arena for the children to see.

Kent Lane follows by skydiving more than 1,000 feet to deliver the giant American Flag into the arena. Then the championship chase begins.

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