DESHLER — Wearing chaps, vests and helmets, kids under 11 walked big and tall Thursday as they climbed up and over the railing before sitting down on their sheep at the Thayer County Fair at the fairgrounds in Deshler.

Parents gave their kids words of encouragement, generally a variation of "hold on tight." 

The kids rodeo of the Thayer County Fair, featuring mutton busting and calf riding, drew about 200 people to the pin set up in the middle of the Thayer County Raceway.

Right next to the track, the fair continued with bingo, a carnival and food. The Thayer County Fair began Thursday and will run through Saturday.

Cowboys and cowgirls under 60 pounds tried to hold on tight to their sheep's wool while kids under 11 held onto a rope tied to the calves. All tried to hold on long enough for an air horn to sound, signalling they held on long enough in the friendly and non-competitive rodeo.

Lagur Webber, 5, and Silas Webber, 7, did mutton busting for the first time. Having not seen it before, they both said they were nervous yet xcited to try. 

People around the pin cheered when kids hung on as well as when they fell off. When someone was stepped on and began to cry, people offered words of encouragement to cheer them up.

Derry Mayfield and his company Mayfield Horse Co. in Seward supplied the sheep, calves and helmets for the event. He said that while it's fun for the kids, it is a chance for them to get exposed to bucking horses and bulls. 

"It'll die without the youth," Mayfield said.

Friday will see the beef show at 8:30 a.m. and poultry show at 1 p.m. for 4-H and FFA. Livestock judging is at 4 p.m. DJ Bridwell opens the evening's concert at 7:30 p.m.and the Eli Young Band headlines Friday. Doors open at 5 p.m.

Saturday sees the hog show at 8:30 in the morning, along with the small and large animal round robins at 1 and 3 p.m..

Saturday will also be dedicated to cars, with a car show from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the city park. Hobby stocks and sports mods will race at 7:30 p.m., around the raceway next to the fairgrounds.

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