On July 1, members of Tooele County and surrounding counties gathered at the Deseret Peak Complex Indoor Arena for the second-annual Bit N’ Spur Special Needs Rodeo.
Over 80 contestants participated in the seven non-competitive events, which included mechanical bull riding, stick horse barrel racing, as well hay and horse riding. Additionally, each participant had the opportunity to go from station-to-station and attempt to rope dummy steers or milk artificial cows.
Organized, in part, by a husband-and-wife duo who were strong advocates of the program, Chad and Marisa Woolsey helped get the rodeo off the ground.
As members of the rodeo committee and riding club for Bit N’ Spur, vice president Chad and his wife Marisa, who is the Special Needs Rodeo Director, said there was always an interest in creating a special needs-centered event for the area and worked with other committee members to bring the project to life.
“We were all looking for something to give back to the community, where there was a need, perhaps,” Marisa said. “We were really surprised that there wasn’t a special needs rodeo in Tooele County.”
In its inaugural year, Chad said there were plans for 30 participants to take part in the rodeo, and had enough awards for twice as many.
“We had enough awards for 75 contestants,” Chad said. “We ended up having 80 contestants our first year.”
The special needs rodeo has also garnered interest by members of the community interested in lending a hand with the festivities. Over the rodeo’s short span of time in operation, Marisa said the amount of volunteers even higher.
“Last year, we had about 70 volunteers and this year we have over 90 — it’s growing a lot,” she said.
At the end of the event, four participants were crowned as Bit N’ Spur royalty: PrincessWillow Hemsley, Prince Kyle Bayerlein, King David Deuel and Queen Tanna Sundberg.
After the royalty was crowned Marisa called a “major” success.
Later in the day, Bit N’ Spur also held its third-annual youth rodeo, which saw growth in participation as well.
According to Codi Nohr, who oversees the event, the number of contestants increased from 138 to 177, in addition to a spike in the number of entries at 487 — up from 344 who entered in 2022.
“This year the kids rodeo was amazing,” Nohr said. “We gave out Buckles to first place in each event in all age groups, as well as paid out money to the top four in each event.”
“We have put the kids rodeo on for three years, and every year it gets bigger and bigger,” Nohr said.