Contest gives youth a chance 'to learn something new'
By TIM HEARDEN
RED BLUFF, Calif. -- When his turn came, 5-year-old Hunter Maxwell knew what to do.
He calmly twirled his rope in the air and flung it forward, neatly bending it around the head of the dummy calf that was his target.
"He just loves to be outside," said his dad, Jim Maxwell, who raises horses, cows and chickens in Los Molinos, Calif. "He loves to be in 4-H."
Hunter was among dozens of children of all ages who gathered April 14 for Tehama County 4-H clubs' fourth annual dummy roping contest, part of a week of events leading up to this weekend's Red Bluff Round-Up rodeo.
4-Hers in Los Molinos, Calif., started putting the contest on to give city kids a sense of what people do on a ranch, although some ranching kids showed up to test their skills with a rope.
"I think it's just really fun and it's a good opportunity to learn something new," said 14-year-old Emalee Kourani, who has raised chickens, pigs, sheep and is now raising a steer as a 4-H project. "Not a lot of people do this."
Kourani's mother, Kathe Teem, and Red Bluff 4-H leader Jack Elderkin started the project because they wanted children from all backgrounds to be able to learn how to rope, they said.
"We think it's important for kids to learn these Western traditions," Teem said, adding they put on a similar event in Los Molinos on Memorial Day weekend.
"I think it's great," she said. "I moved here from the city -- Orange County -- and this type of thing is one of the reasons why I moved here."
Participants were given ribbons and prizes such as a cactus rope, a 4-H duffel bag or a backpack full of goodies, Teem said.
Tim Pilger, a 4-H dad whose 11-year-old daughter, Cheyenne, was teaching a younger girl how to throw the rope, said contests such as this show kids "where the West came from." He supplied ropes for the contest, in which his three children were involved.
"I like to see these kids out here," said Pilger, who raises horses and cows. "A lot of them haven't had an opportunity to rope. I've got 10 ropes out here, and every one of them's in the hands of a kid."
Red Bluff Round-Up: www.redbluffroundup.com