Young ropers and riders roamed the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center Friday evening, waiting for their turn to hit the rodeo arena.
More than 200 students from around the state competed in the Southeast Louisiana High School Rodeo Association’s annual rodeo this past weekend at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center.
The event for junior high and high school students ran Friday evening through Sunday. Rodeo activities included barrel racing, team roping, pole bending, calf roping, breakaway roping and goat tying.
Association President Andree’ Guillory said the junior high level had 63 participants with 176 events. The high school level featured 165 contestants with 262 events.
Berkeley Baudouin, a 15-year-old from Zachary, has competed in rodeos for five years. Her event for this rodeo was barrel racing.
The best part about being in the rodeo for Baudouin is “getting to know people.”
Baudouin plans on becoming a large-animal veterinarian and wants to stay in the rodeo circuit.
The association’s 17 members participated in events as well as helped organize the rodeo.
Kamryn Duncan, 17, from Watson, has been involved in the rodeo circuit since she was 4 years old.
Duncan, whose assigned job for the rodeo was goat-event director, competed in breakaway roping, goat-tying and team roping.
Duncan enjoys the behind-the-scenes work because “it’s good to help others and makes you feel good about yourself.”
“The best thing about being involved in the rodeos is how we (the riders) are all together,” Duncan said. “We are always there for each other. The rodeo has brought me closer to people and God.”
Duncan wants to attend college to be a pediatrician and plans on competing in college rodeo.
Guillory, in her last year as president of the club, said the main goal for the weekend is to “have a good time, get along with each other and have fun.”
“The club and rodeo teach riders responsibility, life lessons about both winning and losing,” she said. “They also learn to care for animals and learn how to handle grief when an animal dies.”
Guillory said the club always hopes the students continue being in the rodeo once they’ve graduated high school.
While the goal of riders is to win, a common theme among several participants was learning about the importance of persistence and tenacity.
Seasoned rodeo participant Cody Waguespack, 17, of Gonzales, said he plans on going to college for mechanical engineering. His goal is to stay in the rodeo circuit while in college and beyond.
Waguespack, who participated in tie-down, roping and team roping, said his advice for the younger riders is to “stick with it, never give up and keep going.”
Casen Decuir, 16, of St. Amant, was the event director for the rodeo’s calf roping.
Decuir, whose father grew up around horses, has been in the rodeo for five years. She said being involved in rodeos has helped her with leadership roles. She also wants to become a large-animal veterinarian, but her “life goal is to make it to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.”
Decuir’s advice for the younger riders is “to not give up because there will always be a next time.”