Braving cloudy skies, chilly temperatures and the occasional rain, boys and girls anxiously listened for their numbers to be called for the mutton bustin’ competition at the 80th annual Galveston County Fair and Rodeo.
More than 170 children, some as young as three years old, participated in the mutton bustin’ competition Saturday, the first full day of the fair and rodeo.
The children had a wide range of emotions — some kids smiling, others appeared more apprehensive — as attentive fathers and mothers helped dress them in small, masked helmets and riding gear.
Casey Delancey and his 5-year-old son Elijah compete in events like this on a regular basis across the state of Texas.
Delancey, who was visiting from Louisiana, made sure his son could be a part of the mutton competition, he said.
“It worked out to where we could make it today,” he said. “Elijah travels all over Texas to these events. We take him anywhere we can. He’s made the finals before.”
He enjoys mutton bustin’ events and riding sheep, Elijah Delancey said.
“It’s fun,” he said.
Later, as many children tumbled off their sheep, Elijah made it across the arena, earning cheers from a riveted audience.
Santa Fe resident Joey Hues wanted to help his 7-year-old son, Maddix, develop his love of riding, he said.
“He’s had a passion,” he said. “He rides calves and he rides with a rope. He’s been a part of several different circuits.”
He constantly practices riding in his free time, Maddix Hues said.
“Every weekend,” he said.
Huddled under the dimly lit arena, spectators bundled in jackets and appeared to enjoy the show. But for Joey and Maddix Hues, mutton bustin’ is more than a hobby.
“He made his very first ride here,” Joey Hues said. “He does it all the time now. He rides to advance his career.”
The fair will be open every day at Jack Brooks Park in Hitchcock until April 21. Events and shows take place on various days and a full schedule is available at galvestoncountyfair.com.