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Junior rodeos turn out local competitors

Rodeo10BIG CYPRESS — Only one more Tribalwide kids’ rodeo competition stands between Seminole youth and a chance at national rodeo recognition.

At 7 p.m. May 31, the Junior Cypress Rodeo Arena will thunder with cheers for junior bull riders, cattle breakaway competitors and barrel racers from Big Cypress, Brighton, Hollywood and Immokalee who will vie for a spot at the 38th annual Indian National Finals Rodeo (INFR).

The boys, all teenagers, are already card-carrying members of the INFR. More than 20 girls will also compete for eligibility in the national championship finals set for Nov. 5-9 in Las Vegas.

“As far as the ‘for sure’ INFR kids making it, we just won’t know until the last rodeo on May 31,” said Jo “Boogie” Jumper, secretary for the regional Eastern Indian Rodeo Association (EIRA) of Seminole Tribe members.

The two highest point winners in the 19-year-old EIRA’s junior bull riding and junior breakaway competition may also get to tour rodeos nationwide with the EIRA adult competitors. EIRA members, including Youth Events director Moses Jumper Jr. and president Alfonso Tigertail, are mentors for youth competitors. Some of the kids have been riding since age 4.

Jumper said the May 31 event on the Big Cypress Reservation will also feature more than 50 youth, from ages 4 to 17, who will show their steel in mutton busting, pony riding, calf roping, chute dogging and steer undecorating.

“These are the kids who competed all year and now it comes down to the end, like any sports playoff like in football, baseball or basketball,” Jumper said. “This is the rodeo playoffs.”

Thirteen saddle prizes will be awarded to the top point earners in each category. Runners-up will receive belt buckles.

So far, competitors bucking for a chance at the INFR championship are: Jaylen Baker, Cisco Rodriguez, Dyami Nelson and Danny Rodriguez for INFR junior bull riding and Dyami Nelson, Jaylen Baker and Jacob Parks for INFR junior breakaway competition. Barrel racers include top contenders Diamond Osceola, Madisyn Osceola, Budah Jumper, Jaycee Jumper, Aiyana Tommie and Kalgary Johns.

“This is a great opportunity for everyone to come out and watch our future rodeo stars,” Jumper said. “Some kids will go for the year-end points and win saddles and other awards. Some kids are pretty close to being year-end winners. It’s all the excitement of the rodeo.”

An additional, non-sanctioned and not-for-points series of rodeo events hosted by the EIRA for kids will run every last Saturday of each month through the summer. Call the rodeo office for more information at 863-983-8923.