Annual church rodeo to ride in Sunday


September 05, 2001|By Pat Brodowski | Pat Brodowski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

EXTREME SPORTS with a Wild West theme have found a niche at a North Carroll church that offers an annual rodeo where hardy youths can test their mettle by riding bulls, roping calves and chasing pigs.

The rodeo, sponsored by Grace Bible Church on Charmil Drive in Manchester, is expected to attract 2,500 spectators.

The event, down to the hot dogs, is free. It will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. The rain date is Sept. 16.

"Local people carry their cooler and blanket, sit on the bank, spend the afternoon watching the rodeo. The community really seems to enjoy it," said Leland Bussier, chairman of the church's Rodeo Outreach Committee.

This year, the quartet Damascus Road will perform between rodeo events.

The cowboy fun was brought to the church by members who are rodeo professionals at River Valley Ranch, a sleep-away Wild West camp for Christian youths in nearby Millers.

Excitement builds in the arena, where the thrill of being a cowboy for a moment brings dozens off the bleachers and into the limelight.

The Rev. Bill Mummert, a full-time pastor at another church and a highly involved rodeo enthusiast, narrates the events.

When an event slows down, clowns run through the arena tossing candy bags to kids in the stands.

Children ages 3 to 7 learn to grab a sheep's wool during the "mutton busting." A young cowpoke climbs onto a ewe, which is let loose into the arena with the child bouncing on its woolly back.

About 60 kids usually turn up for the mutton-busting and pig-chasing events.

Junior bull riders are given protective helmets and thick rubber vests before being lowered into a professional-style rodeo chute, where an 800-pound yearling bull awaits. Sometimes young women try bull riding, but it generally appeals to high school boys. More than a dozen of them try it each year.

"The bull's the size of a small compact tractor," Bussier said. "The rider is told how to hold on and gets some minimal instructions before he's cut loose."

Calf roping is offered for children ages 10 to 13, with a few quick lasso lessons in the arena before the 150-pound calves are sent in.

The animals are known to be gentle and stand about 3 feet tall, which improves the chances that pre-teens will be able to rope them without having to ride a horse.

Wild-cow milking is for girls, who work in teams. The cows aren't used to being milked. One girl holds the harness of the cow, and the other squats to milk into a bucket. The comedy begins when the cow starts to run.

Dave Gerlach, animal handler at the camp, is known for his humane treatment of rodeo animals featured at the event.

Two petting zoos and pony rides will be available for the youngest rodeo-goers, who can also enjoy the balloon animals, face painting and a puppet show.

An ox named Babe, bottle-fed and raised by Gerlach in a playpen, will allow children to sit on him for family photographs.

Honey at Hashawha

Beekeepers will explain man's relationship with the honeybee at the annual Honey Harvest Festival at Hashawha Environmental Center from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Participants can see how honey is extracted and sample honey ice cream, honey-glazed ham and other honeyed foods. A honey cookery show will be held. Cooks must register in advance.

A honey pancake brunch will be offered for $2.75, and lunch foods will be available.

A demonstration of 19th-century life at the center's log cabin will feature cooking, construction of wooden utensils and drying of herbs.

A blacksmith will offer open-air demonstrations.

Children's activities include wagon rides, a petting zoo, and crafts and games with a bee theme. Artisans will offer their crafts for sale.

The entrance fee is $2 per vehicle. Information: 410-848-9040.

Bypass meeting tonight

The State Highway Administration will present a public informational workshop with displays of the proposed Hampstead bypass from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. today at North Carroll High School, 1400 Panther Drive.

Residents have received booklets outlining the latest developments for the bypass. Included are plans to erect no-access bridges over Houcksville and Shiloh roads, and to place the bypass farther west in one area.

Those who cannot attend may call project manager Robert Riley at 800-548-5026.

Pat Brodowski's North neighborhood column appears each Wednesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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