Youngsters enjoy some horse play

Emily Droege
Around 30 children, donned in diapers to cowboy boots, took part in Cavalcade’s “Kiddo Day” Osage County Fairgrounds Thursday morning. Emily Droege/Journal-Capital

Around 30 children, donned in diapers to cowboy boots, found some fun and heat relief in the shaded arena at the Osage County Fairgrounds Thursday morning.

There was a faint breeze and plenty of activities for children ages 8 and under during “Kiddo Day” at the world-famous Cavalcade Rodeo.

Most of the youngsters’ horses were safely tethered to a lead line as an adult directed the excited riders around poles, flags, barrels and other obstacles.

The children paid $5 to participate, but had plenty of goodies to take home including a ribbon, flag and a “driver’s license” that permits participants to walk or trot their ponies.

“I’ve had three kids to a saddle still in diapers today,” said Michelle Chitwood, event organizer. “I’ve been really pleased with the turnout today, even though it’s super hot and it’s getting close to lunch time and nap time, and they’re all kind of mellowing out.”

The world’s largest amateur rodeo roped off this week, and more than 10,000 people were expected to turn up to the big extravaganza.

Chitwood has been part of the fun for more than 20 years, and said that different clubs from all over the area loaned small and large horses on behalf of the successful Kiddo Day.

“I think they all enjoy it because they don’t get to go over and participate in the big events and their siblings or cousins do,” she said. “We had five kids today who had never ridden a horse before, so it’s been special.”

Kate Huddleston, Cavalcade secretary, agreed, stating the event allowed some of the youngest attendees to participate in the rodeo events.

“The very youngest kiddos that are not able to ride unassisted in the big arena had an opportunity to be included in on the fun,” said Huddleston.