Barrel race fiasco real crowd-pleaser

By Grant McGee: Local columnist

The Curry County Fair gets under way Monday. Are you going?

You get to see some pals you haven’t seen in a while. If you’re a newcomer you get to know your neighbors. Folks get ribbons for things like livestock raising and quilt making. Then there’s fair food that includes giant corn dogs, barbecue, cowboy taters and funnel cake. I’ve been told that fair food has no calories.

Are you getting new clothes to wear to the fair?

That’s how I came into my first hat and first pair of boots.

I learned you don’t use the terms “cowboy hat” and “cowboy boots,” because folks will know you’re new to the area. So said Mike, a working cowboy from Mesa, a wide space on the highway north of Roswell.

I had told folks I would be riding in the “Media Barrel Race” at the upcoming fair and would be shopping for my first “cowboy hat” and real “cowboy boots.”

Mike visited me at the radio station where I worked to “edumacate” me on foot and head attire. Mike’s hat was patterned with sweat marks, dust and dirt. His boots were so scuffed and worn they looked like they were part of his feet. He gave me tips on what to get and where to get them.

“Don’t buy no square-toed boots,” he said. “They’s what we call ‘hippie boots.’ ”

I actually had tried to worm my way out of the Media Barrel Race. Every year, the rodeo folks would call on the newspaper, radio and TV people of the region to be in the event. I really wasn’t interested because I just I don’t know how to barrel race. I told them if they’d get a jackass for me to ride I’d do it, confident they wouldn’t find such an animal.

Wouldn’t you know it, they found a jackass. Well it was actually a female, a jenny, and a fine specimen she was too. So there I was, standing at the rodeo arena, the stands full of eastern New Mexicans.

Soon I was up in the saddle and me and my jenny were out in the arena, she proudly trotting and me wearing my new hat and boots.

I have ridden horses before and liked their rolling gait, but I enjoyed the bouncy, trot-trotting of this jenny. I guess if horses are the Cadillacs of the equine world, jacks and jennies would be the Volkswagens.

When the other media folks shot out on their mighty steeds to run the barrels I imagined hearing big budget Hollywood western music like “The Magnificent Seven.” As the jenny and I trotted out I imagined a bluegrass band playing “Turkey in the Straw.”

I stopped to ask a rodeo clown for directions on how to run the race because I still wasn’t sure how. Try as I may I urged the jenny to follow the course while the crowd yelled out directions of their own, along with many a laugh and fun words.

Being from the jackass family the jenny didn’t really want to go where I wanted her to go. She trotted to the other side of the arena, turned around and came back to the chute. We didn’t even come close to any barrels, but we did get a standing ovation from the crowd.

So, will we see you at the Curry County Fair next week? There’s fun stuff and you’ll see your pals.
And don’t forget, they have funnel cake.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: