HITCHCOCK – After six weeks of action, the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo Association divvied out awards and prizes at the awards banquet for youth competitors in its Summer Series on Saturday at Ed Pickett Hall.
The overall champions in the five different age divisions were each awarded the top prizes of saddles.
The top performers in the six-weeklong Summer Series were Katie Harlan (senior, arena 1 division), Jaydon Greak (senior, arena 2 division), Carly Castillo (junior, arena 1 division), Tanner Tomlinson (junior, arena 2 division) and Aubrey Kirschner (sub-junior, arena 1 division).
“Spending summer coming here is the best summer ever,” Kirschner said. “I get to be with my horses and they are my favorite animals.”
This year’s performance earned Kirschner her second Summer Series saddle.
Kirschner, an 8-year-old third-grader from Lake Jackson, competed in all the timed events — straights, cloverleaves and the poles.
Other prizes given to top performers include belt buckles, bridles, reins, hay bags and other equine accessories.
All those who compete in all six weeks of the Summer Series are given participation medals.
For the past 12 years, the Summer Series has served as recreational fun and as an opportunity for serious young rodeo competitors to sharpen their skills.
“It gives them somewhere to go, we’re pretty reasonable on prices and they get to compete for some great prizes,” Summer Series chairman Kevin Garber said.
The Summer Series began small, but this year’s event had 122 kids participate all six weeks.
In all, Garber said that it was a turnout comparable to recent years.
The rodeo has become a family tradition for many participants. Sierra Melchor, 4, of Santa Fe, is already off to a good start following in her mother’s rodeo footsteps by winning the all-around championship trophy in the lead line event.
“My family has always done it,” mother Katy Melchor, who was a buckle winner at the 2008 county rodeo, said. “Ever since I was that old, I was always on a horse. So, now that I have kids, now they are. She loves it. Lead line is a little slow; it’s like trotting, but she has a blast with it.”
In addition to providing summertime activity and competition for budding young rodeo competitors, the Summer Series also auctions items to raise funds to donate to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for cancer research.
The Summer Series had raised roughly $8,000 by the beginning of Saturday’s awards ceremony, and Garber said he hoped a final live auction would push the event to its goal of $10,000 raised.