The bulls won the weekend at the Ninilchik Rodeo.
Riders had no luck on John Wayne, Dark Town, Hizenberg and Calico as all jumped — or were thrown — before the eight-second mark. Just one rider, Chris Manis, managed to best a bull named Snubbin Post to win for the weekend.
Competitors in other events had varying degrees of success besting broncos, roping calfs, racing around barrels, running poles and for one lucky kid — grabbing the ribbon from a calf’s tail to win just over $70 in cash.
The rodeo weekend wasn’t without hiccups. A flood of competitors kept organizers scrambling to keep things on time and corralled, said Shirley Cox, who organized the events.
More than 100 people registered to compete, a record for the half-century-old rodeo.
“It’s awesome that so many people came down to compete and like this rodeo,” she said. “It just becomes a bit of a nightmare to coordinate.”
She credited the family atmosphere at the Ninilchik Fairgrounds for attracting competition — and many agreed with her.
Danielle Gallagher, of Palmer, sat atop her horse Casino after she and her partner Charlie Potter competed in the ribbon roping event on Sunday. The event involves a team with a roper and a runner. The calf rope is tied on hard and fast — much like calf roping. After the calf is roped, the roper works to help the runner get a ribbon that is tied to the calf’s tail. The runner takes the ribbon and runs across the finish line.
Gallagher and Potter travelled to the rodeo with their three children and said they liked the Ninilchik rodeo because it offers a host of competitions for children.
“This is one of the best family rodeos you can go to,” Gallagher said. “We can come down and compete and bring our kids down and they have a full schedule for events to compete in too.”
Potter said the low-key atmosphere in Ninilchik also made the rodeo fun.
“It’s a small town,” he said. “Everyone around here competes and it’s real family oriented.”
While the weekend progressed without any major injuries, a few moments had audience members gasping.
Jesse Rodge had trouble untangling from his bull during the junior bull riding competition. He spent several tense moments being tossed around and eventually under his errant ride before rolling away and limping out of the paddock.
Laramie Gibson, of Palmer, caught nearly a foot of air while skidding across the dirt on a cowhide pulled by Teresa Bitterich. Hide racing involves a rider on horseback dragging a length of rope with a cowhide on the back across the arena and to a child who then hops on the hide and goes for a ride — preferably quickly — down the length of the dirt-packed venue.
Gibson later took a kick to the face during a juniors calf scramble for kids 0-6 years of age, when the young calf got a bit frisky as more than 20 children chased after it, and the ribbon on its tail. But, in true cowboy form Gibson got up and waved to the crowd to show that he was unharmed — just as Rodge and every other competitor had done when it seemed they had been hurt.
Jesse Kitson, of Sterling, won the saddled bronc riding competition on a horse named Wildfire. Kitson is headed to the High School Rodeo Nationals in Rock Springs, Wyoming and the crowd cheered loudly every time he got up to compete.
The 18-year-old said he’d be competing in bullriding, saddled broncs, bareback broncs, trap shooting and light rifle shooting during the national competition, though the bullriding is his favorite.
“It’s something I grew up doing,” he said. “Honestly, it’s a lot of fun. It’s the adrenaline rush. That eight seconds feels like it spans out to 10 hours.”
Kitson didn’t manage to keep on his bull Sunday, an obvious source of irritation for him.
“I fell off of my bull because he stumbled,” he said. “But, it happens. That’s riding.”
Competitors and the crowds spent a pleasant day at the rodeo, but as soon as the festivities ended the rain started in earnest.
As Cox worked to calculate the results of the weekends events, she said the rodeo was always a pleasure to put on.
“It’s Alaskan and it’s way fun,” she said. “We get to put on our cowboy hats for the weekend.”
Ninilchik Rodeo Results
Ninilchik Fair Grounds
Leadline Poles — 1. Ryder Hackett; 2. Amelia Bindon
Leadline Barrels — 1. Margot Shanehan; 2. Ryder Hackett
Bareback — 1. Chris Manis
Bull Riding — 1. Chris Manis
Breakaway Roping — 1. Shelly Bindon; 2. Daniel Warbington; 3. Michaela Stefan; 4. Savanah Fowlie
Team Roping — 1. Janie Call and Shawn Rutherford; 2. Garrett Willis and Gilbert Perez; 3. Garrett Willis and Steve Cook; 4. Danielle Gallagher and Steve Cook
Sr. Barrels —1. Shelly Bindon; 2. Melissa Fowler; 3. Savanah Fowlie; 4. Jenny Strausbaugh
Sr. Keyhole — 1. Teresa Bitterich; 2. Bridget Gibson; 3. Allison Davis
Ribbon Roping — 1. Billy Rutherford and Jenny Strausbaugh; 2. Garret Willis and Johnna Drew; 3. Danielle Gallagher and Charlie Potter; 4. Steve Cook and Teresa Bitterich
Double Mugging —1. Shawn Hall and Kenny Hackett; 2. Garret Willis and Justin Rainwater; 3. Stephen Primera and Charlie Potter; 4. Shawn Hall and Kenny Hackett
Saddle Bronc —1. Jesse Kitson
0-10 Keyholes — Cadence Campbell; Madilyn Bindon; Silas Jones; Jade Campbell
0-10 Barrels — 1. Madilyn Bindon; 2. Evelyn Bindon; 3. Silas Jones; 4. Cadence Campbell
11-16 Bull Riding — Tie – Jesse Rodge, Dawson Vrana
11-16 Poles — 1. Johnna Drew; 2. Felicity Jones; 3. Tori Kitson; 4. Andrea Mahoney
Hide Race — 1. Silas Jones; 2. Laramie Hibson; 3. Aidan Fry; 4. Audreana Mahoney
11-16 Steer Daubing —1. Johnna Drew; 2. Chloe Brewer
11-16 Keyhole — 1. Rebecca Wythe; 2. Felicity Jones; 3. Johnna Drew; 4. Bradley Wythe
11-16 Barrels — 1. Johnna Drew; 2. Chloe Brewer; 3. Felicity Jones; 4. Rebecca Wythe
0-10 Poles — 1. Madilyn Binden; 2. Cadence Campbell; 3. Silas Jones; 4. Laramie Gibson