Kids let inner wrangler out at fair's Wild West Night

Sporting pink cowboy boots, Katie Hartman, 7, clasped her hands around the neck of a resistant sheep Tuesday evening during the Mutton Bustin' contest at the Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair's Wild West Night.

"I holded on the whole time," said Katie, of Taneytown. "There's a lot of sand in my shoes and I hurt my ear, but I don't care."


Wild West Night is an evening of rodeo-based entertainment first introduced to the fair five years ago. Chrissy Villegas, head of the Wild West Night committee, said the event was well attended this year.

"It's an all-around rodeo event, and many events are geared toward the 4-H age kids," Villegas said.

Villegas said events include mutton bustin' (the goal is to stay on the sheep as long as possible), a calf scramble (children vie for ribbons attached to scrambling cattle), stick horse/goat tying, pee-wee barrel racing, junior barrel racing, a shovel race (participants stand on a shovel tied to a horse and race around a barrel), senior barrel racing and monkey in the tree (one of two riders grabs a suspended trapeze-like hanger mid-ride and then attempts to remount the horse on a second pass).

Katie, one of 20 children who participated in Mutton Bustin', received a first place ribbon for her ride. She also received third place for the calf scramble and participated in the stick horse/goat tying event. Katie's grandmother, Marsha Hartman, said this wasn't Katie's first rodeo.

"We thought she did awesome. That was a tough sheep," Hartman said.

Chase Rochkind, 5, kicked off the event. He placed second in the Mutton Bustin' competition.

"He has been excited all week. He practiced for hours with his dog Cash," said Chase's mother, Kasey Rochkind, of Manchester.

Savannah Wrobleski, 5, of Manchester, jumped up and down with excitement when she saw the sheep.

"They put me on a crazy sheep and I lost," said Savannah, who kept her cheery expression after the event even though she didn't last long in the ring.

Liam Bray, 6, ambled into the ring with a piece of hay in his mouth, ready to show his improved sheep-wrangling skills.

"This is my second time. I'm going to go longer this year," said Liam, of Westminster.

Liam's mother, Angie Bray, said he looks forward to the event all year.

"I'm excited for him. He loves it. Next year he'll be too big," Bray said.

Shiloh Milam's daughter Maddie, 6, was nervous and excited to get in the ring.


"It can be dangerous, but they're required to wear helmets. It's not like we force them to do it," said Milam, of Taneytown.

Lynn Johnson, of Westminster, stood by the ring with her family. She said she was delighted by many of the children's rodeo attire.

"We're out here just for the fun of it. We try to come every year. It's nice to see the children having such a good time. It's fun for the kids and fun for the crowd," Johnson said.