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Animal Defenders of Westchester
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Rodeos Teach Children to be Cruel

Journal News, The (Westchester County, NY)
The Journal News
August 12, 2001

Rodeo attracts the city slickers

Author: Michael Gannon; Staff

In Mount Vernon, cowboys' skills stir excitement

Michael Gannon
The Journal News

MOUNT VERNON - Carolyn Ross didn't mind the rain.

After a week of unbearable heat, the light drizzle that fell over Memorial Field in Mount Vernon yesterday cooled down the weather. All the better for Ross and her two sons, Joseph and Romello, to enjoy their first live rodeo, complete with steer wrestling, calf roping and a clown named Chili Pepper Pearl.lee Winkle.

"It's something different, entertaining," Ross said.

Organized by Brooklyn-based Cowboy Mania Inc., the rodeo presented two shows at the stadium yesterday and will conclude today with competitions at 3 p.m.

The weather kept the afternoon crowd much smaller than the 2,500 predicted yesterday by Alfred Evans, co-president of the company.

Only a few hundred people sat in the covered stadium bleachers at the show's start.

But the weather didn't damp! en the enthusiasm of the event's organizers, Evans said.

"You can't command what el Dios has in store for you," Evans said, looking up at the sky. "You just gotta deal with it."

Bringing the life of a cowboy to an urban community like Mount Vernon is what Cowboy Mania is all about. Brooklynite Evans, a cowboy for almost 40 years, said he decided on his career as a child watching shows like "The Lone Ranger" and "Hopalong Cassidy" and working summers on his grandparents' North Carolina farm.

Michael Alston, 9, of Mount Vernon said he was excited to see the show, but wasn't sure he wanted to be a cowboy.

"It looks dangerous," he said.

Corey Scott, a limousine driver from Mount Vernon, and his friend, Jose DeJoie from Brooklyn, were taking a close look at some young steers in a pen before the calf-roping competition. It was the first rodeo for both.

"When (Corey) told me about this, I said we have to take a look at it," DeJoie said.

Competitors in the event came from as nearby as Long Island and as far as South Carolina.

Jerry Napp, a retired racetrack employee from Long Island, said he and his wife, Debbie, were there to compete in the team roping event.

The couple own three horses and enter amateur competitions a few times a year.

"I always wanted to be a cowboy, even though I grew up in an urban area," he said.

Shawn Quinn of Schuylerville, N.Y., was competing in the calf roping in Mount Vernon before heading to an event in New Jersey in the evening.

A horse trainer, Quinn said he had competed in five rodeos this week and has done up to three in a day.

"We just go wherever the rodeos are," he said, as he brushed his two horses, Pablo and Keno, before the show.

The smaller-than-expected turnout was not limited to the audience for the entertainment inside the stadium. An animal rights protest staged by Westchester-based Showing Animals Respect & Kindness drew only a handful of demonstrators.

"Any rodeo is blatant cruelty," said Yonkers resident Kiley Blackman, organizer of the protest. "It teaches children to be cruel."

Evans said his rodeos never use cattle prods or other inhumane methods to stir up the animals, and welcomed the protesters.

"They keep everybody honest," Evans said. "They're the ones who find those unscrupulous cowboys who abuse animals."

Admission is $15 for adults and $12 for senior citizens and children under 13.

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