Riders raise money for royalty

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About 15 riders raced at the Brooks Arena in Hayden to raise money for the Routt County Fair and Rodeo Royalty on Sunday.

The organizers had hoped for more participants, but they still were able to raise a more than a hundred dollars. This was the fundraiser's first year, but sponsors hope to turn it into an annual event.

"It would have been nice to have more people," said Kylie Hawes, who is the 16-year-old royalty queen. "It is hard to get people to come out in the spring and fall."

Hawes hopes to buy rodeo royalty chaps with the money raised. As royalty, Hawes and royalty attendant Kelsey Samuelson promote the Routt County Fair, which is scheduled for Aug. 12 to 20.

The events Sunday included barrel races and a pole bend competition.

"It's a good exercise and good discipline for your horse," said Kay Brooks, who owns the 25,000-square-foot arena with her husband.

The competition allowed 4-year-old Cosette McLaughlin to compete in her first barrel race. She rode with 15-year-old Kasey Bull of Steamboat.

"If I had a child, they would be on horseback before they walk," Brooks said. "You don't want your kid to be afraid."

Local businesses donated participant prizes. Cosette received her first barrel race competition ribbon and a hooded sweatshirt. Bull gave her a belt buckle.

Brooks said she enjoyed the fundraiser.

"We're always happy to give back to the community," Brooks said. "We always want more people to come out."

Brooks said the facility finished its third year of hosting the Brooks Arena Winter Saddle Series. The rodeo series was held on alternating Sundays from November until March. Coordinators gave away 16 belt buckles to riders. Royalty coordinator Amanda Sumerlin, 20, won a hand-made saddle.

Brooks said the arena is hosting dog agility events Mondays at 6 p.m. The facility will host nationally sanctioned races in the summer.

"The main thing is to encourage all ages, all abilities," Brooks said.

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