READY: Emerald rodeo president Shane Kenny said competitors hailed from as far as Victoria.
READY: Emerald rodeo president Shane Kenny said competitors hailed from as far as Victoria. Aaron Goodwin

Rodeo to kick off CQ season

EXPECTED to be one of their biggest spectator events yet, this year's Emerald Easter Sunflower Festival Rodeo on April 20 is set to feature about 300 riders and draw a crowd of 1500.

Emerald Rodeo Association president Shane Kenny said the season's desperately needed rain had "refreshed the minds and attitudes” of locals so "everyone's a bit on the happy side” and keen to support the event.

He said the Clermont Rodeo had not been able to proceed because of the weather, however, and so entries had now peaked for the Emerald event.

"This is one of our biggest entries wise, so it'll be a big day. I think a lot of people will be keen to go out and have a good time.”

This year, 90 women had registered across two events when normally there would be around 50-60 female entrants overall.

The Easter Sunflower Festival is held on the same day as the Emerald Races, making the rodeo a popular choice for the late afternoon.

Mr Kenny said this was the start of the rodeo season for Central Queensland, and he expected the rodeo circuit would be popular until it finished in September.

"We're attracting entrants from Victoria to the Central Highlands due to the number of rodeos in the area. There's four up here and there's pretty good prizemoney.”

He said the quality of the stock at the rodeo was also high, and was set to go on to the Mt Isa rodeo.

Appearing at this year's Emerald rodeo will be Australian champion bull rider Brodie Fielder, current open all round champion for the rope and tie and the team roping champion Campbell Hodson and his team roping partner Liam Davidson, and ladies champion breakaway roper Cherie O'Donoghue from Lockington, Victoria, who will be at this event for the first time.

Mr Kenny said the rodeos were popular spectator sports as "even the champions can have an off day and the young ones can come through ad take the money - it's not such a given”.

"We don't have a referee or someone who can blow a whistle and stop the play - when you nod your head it's game on and fend for yourself.”

Mr Kenny will be riding in the timed events including the rope and tie, team roping, and steer wrestling.

The Australian record for team roping is held by himself and Brendan Kenny from Clermont and was set about three years ago.

He said the arena at Emerald was a very "fast set-up”.

"We've had a lot of high scores at the Emerald rodeo so it wouldn't surprise me if a record was broken this year.”

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