HARRISBURG— Kids and adults with special needs enjoyed an extraordinary day at the Pennsylvania Farm Show’s first ever “Exceptional Rodeo,” held Thursday, Jan. 15.
The First Frontier ProRodeo Circuit of Woodstown, N.J., teamed up with Skills of Central Pennsylvania, Bellefonte, Pa., to host the event.
About 25 children and adults between the ages of 14 and 30 had the opportunity to be real cowboys and cowgirls for the day. The ProRodeo Circuit participants escorted the contestants to different stations, including roping, barrel racing and photo opportunities with a “wild” bull made of straw.
“It’s all about the kids,” said Dave Murat, Marketing Director for the First Frontier Circuit. “Just seeing their expressions makes it all worth it.”
Murat said although this is the first year the event has been held at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, the Circuit has put on similar events at other rodeos like the one in Binghamton, N.Y.
“We hope this will become a yearly thing at the Farm Show,” Murat said. “It’s our way of giving back to the kids.”
Three-time champion barrel racer Jennifer Romriell agreed. “This should be an ongoing thing,” she said. “The kids don’t say much, but by their smiles and giggles, you can tell they really enjoy it.”
Romriell also believes events like the “Exceptional Rodeo” help with the public’s perception of the rodeo way of life.
“There are a lot of animal activist groups speaking out against us,” she said. “This event helps us to show the public we care about our animals and the community.”
Romriell has a unique connection with the “Exceptional Rodeo” as she is a teacher and has a few special needs children in her classes.
At the end of the day, each of the contestants took home a t-shirt, cowboy hat, bandana and a photo of them with the bull.
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For photos of this competition, click here.