Rodeo announcer James Hastings is pulled behind a horse during the shovel race at the annual Ninilchik Rodeo on Saturday, July 4, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska.

Rodeo announcer James Hastings is pulled behind a horse during the shovel race at the annual Ninilchik Rodeo on Saturday, July 4, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska.

Riding high in Ninilchik

Ninilchik Rodeo celebrates 60 years with events new and old.

The annual Ninilchik Rodeo, held every July Fourth weekend, celebrated 60 years this past weekend under blue skies and soaring temperatures at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds.

Kicking off Friday, this year’s rodeo was free to enter and focused on a theme of “rooted in history.”

From barrel races to bull calf riding, the rodeo served up a dose of traditional horsemanship and other rodeo staples.

Rodeo organizers created a break in the action on Saturday to hold a session on the history of the Ninilchik Rodeo, telling stories of its creators and how it got to the present day.

While celebrating its past, the rodeo also continued to reinvent itself with a brand new event this year — horse racing on the beach in Ninilchik.

Other events held throughout the weekend included a bull chariot ride, saddle races, shovel races, a calf scramble for kids, bronc riding, cowboy Olympics, calf riding and a barbecue.

Members of the crowd at this year’s Ninilchik Rodeo cheer during an event Saturday, July 4, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. The rodeo celebrated 60 years with a “rooted in hisotry” theme. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Members of the crowd at this year’s Ninilchik Rodeo cheer during an event Saturday, July 4, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. The rodeo celebrated 60 years with a “rooted in hisotry” theme. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Naida McGee leads her horse through the barrel race at this year’s Ninilchik Rodeo on Saturday, July 4, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Naida McGee leads her horse through the barrel race at this year’s Ninilchik Rodeo on Saturday, July 4, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

A youth rider takes a turn riding a bull calf during the 60th annual Ninilchik Rodeo on Saturday, July 4, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. The rodeo lasted throughout the July Fourth holiday and celebrated a return to the event’s roots. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

A youth rider takes a turn riding a bull calf during the 60th annual Ninilchik Rodeo on Saturday, July 4, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. The rodeo lasted throughout the July Fourth holiday and celebrated a return to the event’s roots. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

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