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RBCEP saddles up for Old West fun

Rock Bridge Canyon Equestrian Park is ready to rope and ride with the first-ever Old West Festival. It will be a day of old-time demonstrations, stick horse races, horse-shoe competitions, cow patty tossing, horse whispering and more at the inaugural event coordinator Jenny Harris said is the perfect fit for RBCEP.

“We have a lot of things that are old-west related because that goes right along with horses,” Harris said.

It will be a chockfull day Saturday, with open trail ride and a community yard sale kicking off the day at 8 a.m. The concession stand will open at 11 a.m., and “Old West” activities begin at noon.

“We have a lady who is coming to do basket weaving, and we have a lady who is coming to do crochet,” Harris said. Children’s events will be in big supply throughout the afternoon, including dummy roping, old-timey slingshots, cutest cowboy/cowgirl competition and all kinds of contests, including seed-spitting, egg/spoon race, hula hoop, stick horse race and sack race. Prior to these festivities, park director and Hodges police chief Mike Franklin will deputize all children at noon. “They are all going to get their own little badge,” Harris said.

The fun times aren’t just for the youngest. Adults can enjoy competitions include horse shoe and cow patty toss, cornhole and a 5-on-5 tug o’ war. There will also be a quick draw competition, with the park providing guns and holsters.

“In the arena we’re going to have a demonstration of the cowboy mounted shooting and a Chuckwagon Race,” Harris said.

Colbert County Cowboy Church will serve samples of pintos, cornbread and Dutch oven desserts “cooked right on the fire, like cowboys used to do,” Harris said.

A prime attraction will be the poker run throughout the canyon’s horse trails, which costs $20 entry with a 50 percent payout. The event will proceed like any poker run.

“At different areas they will get a card, and whoever has the best hand at the end will win,” Harris explained.

Live music will keep the park lively from noon midnight. Plenty of vendors will be on-hand to tempt festival-goers with their wares.

A husband and wife duo, the Brannons, will entertain with trick roping, cowboy poetry and yodeling. From 2-3 p.m., horse whisperer Ray Ainsworth will demonstrate his skill as “the man horses talk to.” Afterward he will be on hand for one-on-one training for $50 per horse. “He can fix those problems – things people can’t figure out why their horses are doing what they’re doing,” Harris said. Call 601-573-1196 to reserve a spot.

There will be no admission to the event, and parking is also free. Most contests will have small entry fees; adult contests will offer a percentage payout to the winners, and children’s contests will offer fun prizes. A few campsites are still available for those wishing to stay at the park for the weekend.

Call 205-935-3499 for more information.