SIKESTON -- The cowboys and cowgirls competing at the Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo Grounds this weekend may not be as big or experienced as those in town last weekend, but they have just as much heart.
"You see a lot of events that you don't normally see at the rodeo, but you also see some of the events you normally see, such as bull riding," said John Anderson. leader of the Scott Country Rodeo 4-H Club.
Scott County's 4-H rodeo is set for this Saturday at the rodeo grounds. Slack, featuring performers from other counties, will begin at 9 a.m., while the main event, with competitors from Scott County, will begin at 7 p.m. Admission is $6 per person.
There are nine counties involved in 4-H Rodeo in the southeast Missouri region, said Sharon Tuschhoff, 4-H youth program assistant. Two hundred six children ages 8 through 18 are enrolled in the program. Those ages 8 to 18 can be part of the action and participate in up to four events at each rodeo.
"Each county hosts its own rodeo," said Tuschhoff. She noted the season lasts from April through August, and the finals rodeo is Aug. 23.
Anderson said that since the Scott County Rodeo is the last one before finals, it's a bit more exciting to watch.
"The kids who are at the end of the season are really trying to do their best," he said. "Each rodeo, they earn points toward the finals."
The contestants participate in four out of 10 events in the junior or senior division. Points are tallied and at the end of the year, the top five in each event area awarded a belt buckle while those in the bottom half of the top 10 receive a medallion, said Tuschhoff. "There's also an overall high point winner for each division," she continued.
But doing well at the rodeos isn't all that qualifies the children for prizes -- and to compete at finals. They are also required to keep project books, which track the expenses and income related to rodeo.
"If they don't complete that book, even if they're up for the top award, they don't get their reward at the end of the year and they can't compete in the last rodeo," said Tuschhoff.
"I think it does make them realize the value of the dollar," Anderson said of the project books. Tuschhoff said responsibility and time management are other learning lessons.
"And it teaches them respect for their parents," she said. "They see in black and white that this is not a cheap project."
All in all, the rodeo teaches several other characteristics, too.
"I've learned a lot about responsibility, sportsmanship, how to be a great friend and leadership skills," said Kirsten Anderson, president of the group.
"It takes a lot of time and dedication," said Tuschhoff. "It's not something you can just go out that weekend and do."
Kirsten agreed. "It's something I do every day -- it's a huge commitment," she said. "Rodeo is not something that you're good at if you don't practice."
And it's a sport Kristen wants to continue in the future. She plans to compete while in college and beyond. The 4-H rodeo is a good way to prepare for it, said her dad, noting that five out of the local rodeo competed in the college national finals this year.
There are adult responsibilities, too, such as caring for the animals. "They have to keep their animals in top performance condition" said Anderson. He noted the rodeo is mostly run for the children. "And if there is a judge's discrepancy of a call they don't agree with, the kid has to challenge it -- not their parents."
The Scott County rodeo is one of the more exciting ones for contestants because of it's location -- as well as it's scheduling the week following the PRCA rodeo.
"It builds anticipation and they are really pumped up," said Anderson. "This is sort of like a little league baseball team playing at the Cardinals' stadium. They saw some of their heroes compete last week and they get to go and compete and participate in the same arena some of those professionals did."
Anderson also gave props to the Sikeston Jaycees for their contributions in making the rodeo possible. "This really couldn't be done without the support of the local Jaycees," he said. The group does ground work, allows use of the facility and also makes other donations.