For the second time in Sundance, area kids will have the chance to partake in the Wyatt J. Pillen Fun Days and Rodeo, organized by Rick and Susan Pillen of Newcastle in memory of their son, who passed away in 2013.
“My fifteen-year-old son was killed in a car wreck, three-and-a-half years ago. He complained there was nothing for his friends to do – and he was right,” Susan says.
“We just did this for community kids to get an experience of the western way of life and rodeo.”
The event will include fun ranging from mutton bustin’, mini bronc riding and mini bulls to wheelbarrow races, watermelon crawls and chute dogging.
“This is the second year we’re doing it in Sundance and our fourth year overall,” she says.
Around 150 kids participated in the rodeo last year with around 400 attendees.
“We’re gearing up for something bigger and better this year,” Susan says.
This year, young participants will also be competing for the first time to win a prestigious honor.
“It’s pretty unheard of for a fun little goofy event, but we are going to be a qualifier for the Badlands Mini Bareback Riding Association’s national, which is going to be held in Rapid City this December,” says Susan. “The top riders in each division will actually get to go to nationals and participate.”
A free supper will be served in the evening for visitors to enjoy after the festivities. Susan encourages all local kids to give the events a try and says there’s no reason to worry about safety where the mini bulls are concerned.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say they don’t want their kid on a bull, but these miniature bulls are safer than calves, because calves are so narrow and hard to sit on and so agile,” says Susan.
“They’re actually safer, though people not in the sport don’t know that.”
Sign-ups for rough stock events including miniature bulls and horses and mutton bustin’ will close a couple of days before the rodeo, as the organizers need to know how many miniature bulls and horses to bring. Ground events do not require registration, however.
To register, visit www.crookcofair.com/entertainment and click the link in the WJP Memorial Rodeo section.