The Cootamundra Rodeo made a successful post-Covid comeback on Saturday with a crowd estimated at 1400, a quality field of animals and riders, and only a brief sprinkle of rain in the middle of a very rainy season.

The Cootamundra Rodeo Association President Garry Luck said the event exceeded expectations, setting the stage for a much larger rodeo this time next year, with more events such as calf and steer roping.

Stall owners did a roaring trade, and there was an atmosphere of fun and friendliness around the arena, making it a great family day out.

The hard-working volunteers at the Can Assist barbecue cleared around $1200 for their day’s efforts, their only problem being running out of change because so many hundred-dollar bills were offered.

Cars coming to the Rodeo were asked to pay the admission charge by Lions Club volunteers, including Cootamundra-Gundagai Mayor, Charlie Sheahan.

The Rodeo will make a donation to Lions from the gate takings of $15,000.

The toughest gig of the day, the open bull ride, was won by Jack Broderick, who was the only one out of eight contestants to last the required eight seconds.

There were no winners in the novice bull ride, although there were 29 starters.

Other results were:

Open bareback, Brendan Crawley first, Jessie Bargallie second;

Open saddle bronc: Angus McTavish first, Tommy Lucas second;

Novice bareback, Cody Hotston first, Brendon Valentine second, Wilson Kelly third;

Novice saddle bronc, Linden Raaen first, Luke Cheney second, Jessie Dennis third, Max Day fourth, Daniel Willis fifth.

The open barrel winner was Laura Papatheotanous, with Karen Harris second, Dusty McPhee third, Jody Bachelor fourth and Natalie Veitch fifth.

In the novice barrel horse event Jackie Priestly was first, Macy Bryant second, Montana Jackson third, Kaesha Nijseen fourth and Karen Harris fifth.

There was just one injury, a rider in the saddle bronc event who broke a collar bone.

Awareness of the Rodeo around town was helped by a Street Parade on Thursday evening, with a guest appearance by Australia’s oldest cowboy, Bob Holder, riding in a cart drawn by Clydesdale draught horses supplied by Russell Bradford of Stockinbingal.

Garry Luck said special thanks were due to the compere Steve Condell from Wagga, who did a fantastic job, and to the many Cootamundra businesses who gave the event generous sponsorship.

“We’re also grateful to the Council for its support, in the form of a grant and roadworks near the entrance,” he said.

Depending on the weather, the Rodeo Association is hoping Cootamundra will be hosting a national ladies barrel racing event in the near future.