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WEEPING WATER – Eighty children received the ride of their young lives this week during the annual mutton busting show at the Cass County Fair.

An enthusiastic crowd watched the sheep-riding exhibition Thursday night in the sheep pen on the fairgrounds. Children ages 2-8 took part in an event that was a combination of sport and entertainment. They performed in front of an audience that sat in bleachers and stood by several sides of a fence.

Contestants entered the event with a goal of staying on top of a moving sheep for as long as possible. A McClain’s Mutton Busters safety clown held younger children on top of their sheep before carrying them off the animal. They also ran alongside older students as their sheep sprinted to the other side of the pen.

Several students remained on their animals for a long amount of time. Adden Essary produced one of the top rides of the night. He stayed on his sheep as it left the western edge of the pen and ran down to where other animals were staying on the eastern end. The sheep then maneuvered around other animals and began running the other way. The crowd gave loud applause to Essary after he got off the sheep and began returning to the entrance.

Grace Whigham also generated a long performance. She held on tightly to her sheep as it raced back and forth down the pen. She made it to the eastern side of the dirt area before she ended her ride.

McClain’s Mutton Busters provided safety clowns, sheep wranglers and all animals for the show. Conestoga FFA students assisted with many other aspects of the event. Several students held sheep as the safety clown placed children on the animals. They also corralled sheep, announced names of children and collected registration information.

All children wore helmets during their time on the sheep. Parents also signed release papers as part of the registration process. Officials had initially said they would limit the number of participants to 50, but they increased capacity to 80 children due to the large number of people waiting in line early Thursday night.

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