LONG BEACH — The Northwest Professional Rodeo Association came to the Peninsula Saddle Club last weekend for the 74th annual Long Beach rodeo.

The event was well attended despite a crowded NPRA schedule last week. Some participants came straight from a July 25-27 event in Longview. The July 26-27 Madras, Oregon rodeo also drew competitors.

Recent Ilwaco High School graduate and future WSU student Calynne Skye Weewie was the rodeo queen.

As has been the case in recent years, most of the local competitors were in the youth divisions of barrel racing, including Dominique and Sophia Bittner, Katie Glasson, Evelyn Wise and Madelyn Yates. It was preparation for next weekend, when the junior rodeo comes to town.

Barrel racers led their horses around three barrels arranged in a triangle throughout the arena. Most racers take tight turns to save precious seconds, despite the risk of knocking down a barrel and incurring a ruinous five-second penalty. That makes every turn a harrowing experience for the fans, the rider, and perhaps the horse, assuming it has some understanding of the goal. Especially suspenseful is when the barrel tips slightly before balancing itself; the rider is already sprinting on with her back to the barrel, and only knows by the crowd’s or announcer’s reaction whether the barrel stayed upright.

In the adult barrel race, Jacee Currin led after Saturday’s action with an 18.40, a fiftieth of a second faster than Samantha Kerns. Kasey Teague, who entered the weekend leading both the NPRA all-around and barrel-racing standings, finished in 18.418 seconds Sunday but knocked down the second barrel, which allowed Currin to preserve her victory.

The steer-wrestling competition also provided some tense moments. Samuel Mundell of Kingston, who finished fifth in a national high school competition, leapt from his horse at the steer but did not quite catch its horns and fell all the way to the ground. For a brief moment, the steer was over him with its horns near his head. It ran Mundell over and took off, inflicting no damage.

Other events included calf-roping, a competition that emerged from ranchers’ need to tie down their cattle to provide them with medical care. According to announcer William Beemers, the method is still used today on some ranches. In the competition, the contestant chases the calf on horseback, dismounts and ties a knot around three of its legs. Subduing the creature is no guarantee of a qualifying time; one calf slipped loose of a knot in the allotted six seconds, which counts as a victory for the animals over the humans.

Also victorious were the bulls, who dropped four of their seven riders within the allotted eight seconds over the course of the weekend. Of the three survivors, Cameron Clayson was awarded the highest score for his ride, an 82 on a 100-point scale.

Beemers and rodeo clown Joey Hackett kept the crowd entertained throughout the event, which lasted three hours both Saturday and Sunday.

Behind the south stands, vendors sold food and other goods, and a mechanical bull took kids for a spin.

This weekend, the Peninsula Saddle Club will host the Surf N Saddle Junior rodeo, a Northwest Junior Rodeo Association event.

Aaron Mead is a sports writer for the Chinook Observer. Contact him at 360-642-8181 or aaroncmead@gmail.com.

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