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Back in the saddle again

It's cattle country and the two-day McAuley ranch rodeo is set to become a regular summer feature.

A few years ago, the McAuley community decided to hold an annual Ranchers Rodeo and an August rodeo tradition was started -until Covid came along - but this year it was back.

However, one big issue had to be overcome. The traditional arena site had become a semi mud bog. Signage warned people not to park or drive there.

In a huge community effort, with the help of many community volunteers, local and area businesses and some government grants, a new site was chosen and prepared. To stabilize the site, Geotech ground covering was laid and over 150 loads of sand were brought in.

During the Aug. 5-7 weekend event, the arena worked well.

The three-day event had something for all ages and the camp site grounds were filled. On the main site, a big white tent served as a beer garden and dining area.

On the first day there was a Mexican themed food truck, and throughout the weekend the local fire department cooked up burgers and hot dogs.

For the kids there was cowboy boot ring toss and a water slide bouncy castle, but the stick horse rodeo was a huge hit with the kids - the stick horse riders had a great deal of fun. Several who tried their skill at steer roping had some raw talent!

Later in the afternoon, the new soil around the riding arena became a popular site to play with toy tractors and shovels. In fact, during the evening rodeo, they just kept on playing in the sand, oblivious to the action in the ring.

During the afternoon and later that night Lachlan Neville of Rocanville entertained with live vocals, guitar and mouth organ.

Man cannot live on beer and burgers alone, so at supper time there was a great meal cooked by Porky Jr. BBQ, assisted by The McAuley Country Cafe. Smoked brisket and pulled pork, both done to perfection, were served buffet style with four kinds of side dishes, baked potatoes and melt in your mouth buns. Hoping for a supper crowd of 150, they ended up serving 220 meals and selling out of food.

The Ranch Rodeo action included four-person teams with colorful names such as Three and a Half Men, Cowboys and Immigrants, Circle S Ranch and K Bar S. Six events required riding and roping skills and feats of strength, all facing the time clock.

One such event was Range Doctoring. The team cut out a cow from the group. But not just any cow. They were all numbered and the cowboys had to catch a certain one, knock it down, tie it up and brand it. Some of those cattle had some smarts and beat the cowboy and the clock.

In a Rescue Relay, one of the team members was dragged around the whole arena on a shovel by a horse and rider. The shovel riders sucked back a lot of dust and dirt, but they kept smiling as the crowds cheered them on.

During Steer Mugging, a designated cow got knocked down and had three legs tied. The team stood back and hoped it would stay for six seconds. It was a close call for some of the teams as the cow tried with all its strength to get back on its feet.

Wild Cow Milking was funny. These were not your grandma's tame milk cows. These cows did not want anyone to milk them and it was all hands on deck to see which team was going to win the match. (Sometimes pulling or hanging on to the cow’s tail helped.) The milk was presented to the judge.

Later in the evening the crowd stayed on and enjoyed the evening with friends and rodeo cowboys.

Said Brook Canart, one of the organizers, "After a three-year break, we were not sure what to expect, but the turnout was an overwhelming success. We were blown away with the support of our and the surrounding communities, be they spectators, participants, the business and companies that sponsored the events and the many volunteers. We are already discussing plans for August the 11-13, 2023 event. We hope to see you there”