Area youth attend state Western Heritage competition

Area youth participated in a Western Heritage competition in Sartell, Minn. on Aug. 7. The event features several traditional ranching techniques. Contributed photo

Around 13 kids from Pipestone and Murray county participated as individuals and teams in the Western Heritage competition held on Aug. 7 at the RNJ Stables in Sartell, Minn. Allan Jones, who is the original organizer of the event and a judge, and a coach for area kids said that the purpose of the Western Heritage program is to get area youth involved while keeping traditional ranching activities alive. The grade levels of participants range from sixth to twelfth grade, with many senior students participating for one year after they graduate, Jones said. The competition boasts a variety of competitive events.

“It’s mostly team penning, round pen roping, breakaway roping, goat tying and team roping,” Jones explained.

In the month of May, area participants take part in a safety clinic out at the farm of Allan and Kelly Jones, where they typically practice for competition.

“They have to come to that one and then we have practices,” Jones remarked. “We try to do them every Friday night throughout the summer.”

A regional competition is held there, and participants who win head to state. Regionally, (Pipestone, Murray, Jackson, and Rock County) around 17 kids headed to state this year, Jones said, and every year the number grows.

One area participant, Kenzley Pater, 14, of Pipestone, said that she has been a part of the Western Heritage group for two years, and that the competition this year was a great experience for her.

“It was a lot of fun,” she said. “My favorite event this year was probably goat tying, because my horse is learning to keep running and not just stop when I dismount him. So he’s getting used to goat typing and so am I. I did pretty good this year, so it was a lot of fun.”

Pater placed first in intermediate goat tying, second in intermediate round pen, and fifth in intermediate team pen to pen. She encouraged other kids who want to participate to get involved if they are interested.

“I would definitely do it (encourage them),” Pater said. “The community there it’s just a lot of fun and it’s very chill and it’s just like a big family.”

Hailey Peschges, 16, of rural Currie, who has been participating in Western Heritage since 2019, also attended this year’s state competition. She started out with a friend, Hailey said, and she has kept participating because it has been a fun experience for her. Like Pater, her favorite event is goat tying, Peschges said.

“It’s a lot of fun for me,” Peschges remarked. “It’s fun getting my horse to just kind of understand what I want it to do. You’re timed, so you have to run down there on your horse and you want to dismount while they’re running. Some people stop their horse but that adds time, but you dismount while you’re running. You have to grab the goat, sometimes you have to chase it but you grab the goat and then tie him, and jump back like three feet as fast as you can. It’s an adrenaline rush.”

This year, Peschges placed second in senior round pen, fourth in senior goat tying, and sixth in senior teams pen to pen. Her experience in Western Heritage has taught her many lessons, she said, including how to learn from and teach others.

“Everybody is helping everybody, and you help everyone you can,” she said. “You teach them something, they’ll teach you something, it’s just kind of a hand-off you know?”

Area youth or their parents who are interested in getting involved can contact Allan Jones at 507-820-1846