Eight-year-old Cole Scheetz stands with his hands on his hips next to two stick horses lying on the ground at the Hallsville Fairgrounds stables. Cole looks like a real cowboy with his dirt-covered boots, long blue jeans, belt buckle, cowboy hat and light-blue shirt.
“I’m not competing this year,” Cole says. “I won it last year, so I’m going to let someone else win this year.”
Cole embodies the competitive yet friendly atmosphere that defines the Little Britches Rodeo, which opens the Heritage Festival in Hallsville. Children 8 years and younger compete in rodeo-style events, including calf roping, pole bending and barrel racing. Instead of real horses, they run with stick horses between their legs.
Before the events start, there is a question-and-answer session with three judges: Michaela Horstman, Amanda Young and Brooke Young. While sitting on lounge chairs, they quiz the kids one after another about their outfits. In the end, they will select the best-dressed cowboy and cowgirl.
“That’s an interesting horse you got there,” Amanda Young says while the other judges laugh.
Opposite the judges, Tyger Cobb stands in red boots, a red and black vest and a cowboy hat, holding a stick elephant.
“No, it's not a horse,” Tyger replies. “He’s an elephant, and his name is Lenny.”
He won for best-dressed cowboy.