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RAM Rodeo Tour a hit at the Beachburg Fair

By Ryan Paulsen, The Daily Observer

After more than a century and a half, the Beachburg Fair could be forgiven for keeping things more or less the same, but this year's fair featured a brand new addition that got a lot of fans cheering for more.

"We're happy," says Ross Millar, producer of this year's RAM Rodeo Tour event. "It's our first year as part of the fair. We did it as a standalone event two years ago, and now they've incorporated it into the fair. The cowboys loved it. It was a lot of fun with a lot of action."

While back in 2014 the rodeo was in town coinciding with the perennially popular fair, this year's official incorporation into the schedule brought with it some unique challenges for the cowboys and cowgirls at the event.

"We've never done a rodeo where there's been a Ferris wheel going on while we're rodeoing. It kind of added another dimension and got the horses a little uptight, but the cowboys got through it and did a good job."

Sharing a venue proved to be no problem at all either, somewhat surprisingly, given the headline attraction the night before.

"Considering they had a demolition derby [the night before], they did a great job cleaning it up. It was a really nice pit. It was safe for the horses and good for the horses."

This year's eastern Canada tour leg involves 16 different rodeo stops, and attendees of the Beachburg Fair got to see cowboys and cowgirls from across the US and Canada (and even as far away as Australia) show off their skills in events like barrel racing, team roping, and the ever-popular bull and bucking bronco riding.

From here, the rodeo tour heads to Tweed next weekend, and the eventual champions will be crowned in Newmarket before going on to compete at the illustrious Royal Winter Fair in Toronto.

Based on the crowd's resiliency in the face of spurts of rain and a full schedule of attractions elsewhere in the fair, Millar was impressed by the enthusiasm of the crowd for the newest schedule addition.

"I was surprised everybody stayed for the whole show because there's so much to do on the grounds. I was expecting people to wander around, but they just stayed and watched."

One of the particularly remarkable performances came from 11-year-old Courtney Jean Schum, a trick rider hailing from the small Western New York town of Alexander.

"I've been performing in rodeos for two years, but I've been trick riding for three or four," says the friendly young cowgirl following her impressive Saturday afternoon performance.

Over the course of her young career, Schum has mastered tricks like "round the horn", where a rider spins around the saddle's horn while riding a horse around the ring, and the "suicide drag", a dramatic trick where a rider dangles from one leg beside the galloping horse.

"When I was six, I always loved rodeos, so we'd go and I'd perform in them in barrel racing and stuff, and whenever there was a trick rider, we'd watch and then after the rodeo I'd get a mini-lesson from them."

Millar hopes that this won't be the last time the RAM Rodeo Tour is part of the Beachburg Fair, but regardless of whether it becomes an annual fixture or was a one-time highlight, it will be long remembered as a fan favourite of this year's fair.

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