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Third Annual Junior Rodeo in Deep Gap Sept. 21 and 22

By Samantha Hudson

Sept. 19, 2012. Deep Gap will host its third annual High Country Rodeo Friday, Sept. 21 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 22 at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $10 for children and adults over six years old and free for children five and under.

Last years event was very successful and High Country Cowboys and Cowgirls (HC3) committee member Chad Fairchild is expecting about a 20 percent increase this year based on word of mouth for a total of about 1,500 to 2,000 spectators.

The High Country Rodeo is a Junior Southern Rodeo Association (JSRA) event organized by HC3. The JSRA is the largest junior rodeo association east of the Mississippi River and sanctions more than 12 rodeos each year. The Deep Gap rodeo will be the last JSRA sanctioned rodeo before the finals in Ashville Nov. 15, 16 and 17.

The rodeo is a non-profit event.

“The kids are rewarded with cash prizes, because they pay cash entries,” Fairchild said.

Other money received by the HC3 committee is given to a charitable fund or to the Jr. Rodeo Association.

This year’s rodeo will feature 100 contestants with around 220 entries in various events, which include bull riding, barrel racing, mutton busting, team roping, goat tying and more.

“Usually the biggest events that get the crowd are bull riding and barrel racing, they’re the fastest and the most dangerous events, and then the mutton busting, where the four and five year olds ride sheep,” he said.

Contestants range from four years old to 18.

“From the 11-year-olds up to 18 are probably the top cowboys and cowgirls in the east,” he said.

Fairchild admits this level of success takes a lot of hard work.

“Rodeo is a lifestyle, the difference in Rodeo and your traditional sport is that here you have an animal. 90 percent of events include a partner that you don’t speak to through verbal language but body language. It takes a lot, you have to feed them and train them. You daily have to train not just yourself but your animal to do the thing that you want it to do. Kids learn the value of taking care of things other than themselves, the horses eat before we eat, the responsibility is huge.”

This year’s half time entertainment features the Bailey Mountain Cloggers, 19 time National Champions, from Mars Hill College.

Major sponsors include Mack Brown Chevrolet, Carolina West Wireless, Blue Ridge Energy and Cheap Joe’s art supplies.

“It wouldn’t be possible without the Mack Brown family, they donate the land and the opportunity for us. You can’t just have a rodeo anywhere. You have to have parking, you’ve got to have good grounds and you have to have safety,” Fairchild said.

A memorial will be held this year for Mack Brown, who past away this year. Brown was a big supporter of the military and an opening ceremony with a military theme will be held in his honor.

The High Country Rodeo is located east of Boone on U.S. 421 directly across from Laurel Springs Baptist Church. Parking is free. For more information, contact Fairchild at 828-963-3646 or cfairchi@clgco.com.