Redneck Olympics returns to Hayden |

Redneck Olympics returns to Hayden

Luke Graham

Sean Bailey pushes a lawn mower during the Routt County Redneck Olympics on Saturday at the Routt County Fairgrounds in Hayden.

— Anthony Mathey had been growing his hair since January.

The blond hair stretched down just past his neck and taunted his shoulders.

Of course, Saturday required a haircut.

So before Anthony could compete in the second annual Routt County Redneck Olympics in Hayden on Saturday, the 10-year-old decided on a haircut.

And what goes with the Redneck Olympics?

"It's a mullet," Anthony said.

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Anthony competed in the paintball obstacle course and was all business in the front and party in the back.

The Redneck Olympics started last year as a grass-roots effort by business owners looking to bring another unique event to the Yampa Valley.

It served as a fundraiser for the Routt County Cattlemen's Association and the Routt County Agriculture, Youth and Heritage Foundation.

"As soon as this stops, we start planning for next year tomorrow," emcee Rodney McGowen said. "We learned a lot from last year's event."

Saturday's event was a redneck's delight. It featured lawnmower triathlons, horseshoes, blind tractor driving, paintball, redneck steeplechase and mud surfing.

While the events were a nod to redneck shenanigans, the event also highlighted the trappings of being a redneck.

There were mullets, skullets, overalls and the beer in one corner. Cutoffs, tight jeans, mud, Charlie Daniels blaring, more beer and strategic planning dotted another.

"I grew up in west North Carolina," said Stephen Rogers, who was in town from Denver. "It's a term that's pretty dear to me. It's a mountain man. It means you can have a good time and you don't have to be in a city to enjoy life."

That was the thing. Redneck can be a derogatory term in the wrong context. But in Hayden on Saturday, everyone was a redneck.

"It's someone that works hard and creates his own fun," Clay Owens said.

And when McGowen turned the microphone to the crowd and was asked what's a redneck, the overwhelming response came in just two words.

"We are," McGowen said.

Even Anthony, with the fresh mullet, understood. After riding in a wheelbarrow around obstacles while shooting a paintball gun at street signs, Anthony maybe best described the term.

"It's a person," he said, right hand patting what was left of his long hair, "that lives in the country and doesn't do what city people do."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email

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