Zachary Vaughn had never been to a rodeo before. Friday was the Encinal Elementary School student’s first experience up close, and it didn’t disappoint. 

“My favorite part is the bulls. I liked when they bucked,” Vaughn said.

He wasn’t alone in his experience, as the Flying U Rodeo put on a show for more than 900 local children from 27 area schools – primarily second-graders. 

The Kid’s Rodeo is organized by Recology Yuba-Sutter, the Friends of the Marysville Stampede committee and the Marysville Kiwanis Club – which gather community support to help bus students to Cotton Rosser Arena at Beckwourth Riverfront Park.

Jackie Sillman, community outreach manager for Recology, said organizers chose second-graders because that’s about the time they start learning about the West.

“It’s all about education,” Sillman said. “My favorite part is getting to see the kids dance and get excited. They have so much fun, and get to get out of school for a few hours. It’s about teaching them to appreciate the rodeo lifestyle.”

Roberto Valdes grew up around livestock and has seen rodeos before, but this was the first time he was able to bring his two children. His daughter attended with her class from Edgewater Elementary.

“I’m excited for my kids, who really wanted to see the animals and stuff. They don’t really get to be exposed to this kind of thing in the city, so it’s cool for them to be able to see it. This is something new to them,” Valdes said.

Evie Paul, a teacher at Wheatland Elementary, said her students were excited to see the bulls and horses, but also to get out of the classroom. She said this sort of event is good for the kids because it promotes community involvement. 

“Even though we are from Wheatland, this is their community. I had one of the Rosser daughters in class in the past, so it’s great to be able to bring the kids to something like this. The Stampede has been going on for a long time,” Paul said. 

Flying U has been putting on the Kid’s Rodeo for about four years. Reno Rosser, who produces the Flying U Rodeo’s shows, said the event is a great opportunity to give the kids a small sample of what the real rodeo is like, and to make a few new fans. 

“A lot of the kids have never been to a rodeo, so this is about exposing them to it, and you can see it on their faces when they love it,” Rosser said. “All of our entertainers donate their time to this event. This is also an opportunity to highlight our youth competitors, who haven’t really performed in front of a big crowd before.”