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Competitions require kids to hang on tight

What's more fun than watching a small child in a hockey helmet try to ride a sheep? Well, seeing a young teen try to catch a 150-pound calf or wrestle a greased pig might be close.

If any of that sounds like good, not-so-clean fun, grab a malt from the 4H stand,find a seat outside of Ahlberg Hall Saturday afternoon at the Dakota County Fair, and be ready to take in all three events.

The Catch-a-Calf, Greased Pig and Mutton Bustin' contests have all been around for a few years, according to fair president and interim manager Don Storlie. But Storlie said the three events have become pretty popular since they've been a part of the fair.

Catch-a-calf and greased pig contests are something the 4Hers have done for a while. Any kid who has grown up on a cattle or swine farm has probably had to tried to master one or the other or both (well, maybe not wrestling a greased pig, but possibly a pretty squirrelly one) and knows what a challenge it can be. And that, Storlie said, is what makes these contests so fun.

"It's a lot of excitement," Storlie said. "If you've ever tried catching cattle, you know how hard it is. These calves aren't small. They will be up around 150 to 200 pounds, and it takes some strength to do it.

"And the greased pigs are really wild because they're greased and you can't hardly grab them," he added. "Pigs are really fast."

The Greased Pig and Catch-a-Calf events are only open to 4H kids, ages 9-14, but the public is welcome to have a seat and take in the action, Storlie said.

The Mutton Bustin' competition is open to the public, but the participants have to weigh 65 pounds or less, meaning they're usually younger children. The kids don helmets, crawl on the backs of smaller sheep and more or less hang on for dear life - or at least, for a great ride. The object, of course, is to be the kid who hangs on the longest.

"We use smaller sheep so nobody is going to get hurt there," Storlie said.

In the past, the event had been held out at the grandstand, but this year it's been moved so it's right in the middle of the action. The ring will be set up on the south lawn of Ahlberg Hall. The fun starts at 3:30 p.m.

"It's just very entertaining," Storlie says. "A lot of luck and some skills go with it, but it's a fun time. And it's free."

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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