Weatherford Democrat

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June 29, 2012

Cowboys and community welcome at church

PARKER COUNTY — Clay McLemore had a strategy. It was a backward kind of strategy — but it was good enough to earn the 4-year-old third place.

Clay was one of 18 youngsters who braved oppressive heat to take on wooly adversaries Sunday in an hour-long event organized by Brazos Trails Cowboy Church.

The church hosted its third Mutton Bustin’ contest at 1 p.m., smack in the middle of a 100-degree day.

Inspired to compete by his older brother, Brady, who previously participated in Mutton Bustin’ competitions, Clay’s defining characteristic in the event was his unusual tendency to mount the sheep backward, an idea given to him by his father. This lent him greater stability. Fellow contestants Taylor and Trenton Brooks took first and second places.

“The most fun about it is just the joy of doing it,” Clay said.  

Fellow contestant, Keegan Jackson, proclaimed his favorite part of riding an alarmed mammal was “hanging on.” A Mutton Bustin’ veteran of over half a dozen rides, 5-year old Keegan’s participation stems from his enjoyment of watching bull riding contests.  

For the church’s part, organizers wanted to have a contest that appealed to the community.

“Whether you’re from the city, or whether you’re from the country, it’s a family and it’s a community event,” said Michael White, the communications team leader for the church. “So it’s not just the kids from the church, which I would say a majority of them are, it’s open to anyone in the community. It’s just another avenue for people in the community to come together, whether they go to church here or not.   

“It’s the whole cowboy lifestyle: some of these kids, they will mutton bust, and the next thing, they’re going to be doing barrel racing; next thing, they’re going to be doing rodeo, just like their mother and dad did.”

The Mutton Bustin’ Buckle Series this year involves one competition each month for five months, with the champion at the end of the series receiving the title buckle, said White.

Sunday’s celebration was the third such event. The entire show, from rodeo clowns to announcers, is staffed by volunteers from the church, and, according to White, the Mutton Bustin’ is only one of several similar programs the church hosts.  

They had team sorting later in the day on Sunday, which is typically done on Sundays, White said.

“Tuesday is team roping. Monday night is what we call Roping 101,” White said, adding that all of these activities were welcome to anyone in the community, not just churchgoers. “People say, ‘You know, I’ve had a bad experience with the church before,’ but we don’t want anybody else to have a bad experience; we want you to come by and realize it’s just not hearing a service. It’s getting together with your local neighbors, and meeting new people, and having fun in the arena, just because we’re in Texas.”

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