Spectacular event at the Showground this week

A combination of high skill and engrossing excitement.
A combination of high skill and engrossing excitement.

Hundreds of campdraft and rodeo riders are to descend on the Showground at the end of the week for the Glen Innes Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association championships.

Riders from Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria are expected to compete in a high-calibre competition with more than $40,000 in prizes.

The campdrafting action will start on Thursday evening and run until Sunday afternoon with nine events.

For the uninitiated, campdrafting involves the highest skill as the rider manipulates cattle around a course, “cutting off” one beast from the rest of what’s called the “camp” and then turning it two or three times to show he has the beast under control. It’s about rider and horse manipulating cattle through a preset course.

It is a great sporting export of the region in that it is thought to have started in the Northern Tablelands and southern Queensland when stock men and drovers formalised what had been informal competition done just for their amusement and to keep their skills sharp.

The records show that the first proper campdrafting competition was at the Tenterfield Show in 1885. One of the competitors – one Clarence Smith –  a cattleman and horse breeder went on to write the rules and procedures for judging, rules remain similar to those today (and which will be used this week in Glen Innes).

The highlight of the events is expected to be the “Signature Floats Shoot Out” on Thursday evening when the “best of the best” compete for more than $10,000.

The ideal horse for this work needs to be big enough to pressure a big bullock but also agile and fast enough enough to separate it from the “camp”. The rider needs the skill to control and anticipate a fast-moving animal.

On Saturday night, there’ll be all the drama and excitement of a professional rodeo, with the Gill Bros Rodeo coming to town.

The President of the Glen Innes Show Society, Andrew Hancock, said the campdraft and rodeo “would be the largest ever run by the committee and would bring local and inter-state competitors together for four exciting days”.

There will be food and camaraderie. Saturday night’s event would see the Showground offering “a great night out for the community, with food, a bar and entertainment.

“We are enormously pleased to be bringing a rodeo event back to Glen Innes after many years in hiatus”, he said. Tickets for the rodeo at the gate on Saturday night – $10 for adults, $5 for teenagers from 12 to 17, under 12s free.