H-SANTA MARIA

Thousands of kids get their kicks at Elks Mini Rodeo

It's a big weekend for Santa Maria. The 2012 Elks Rodeo has come to town. It kicks off Thursday night at 7 p.m. with bull riding and runs through Sunday.

Thousands of people are expected to turn out this weekend and the stage is set for food, fun, and rodeo, but Thursday belonged to the kids.

They are the sights and sounds of the 2012 Minetti Elks Mini Rodeo. About 6000 kids packed the stands from across the Central Coast to feast their eyes on events like roping and bull riding.

"It was really amazing. I love the bucking of the people, said JJ Rocha, a 3rd grader at Ocean View Elementary.

One of the highlights was Mutton Bustin',where kids hang on to sheep for as long as they can. I tried to get the winners to share their secrets.

"It's like. . Aaahh. . I need to let go, but you just like try to hold on so tight," said Madison Morin.

For organizers, it's a chance to introduce many of the kids to the sport of rodeo, hoping they will become fans of the future.

"We're teaching them about animals and horses and some of these kids haven't even seen a horse up close," said Rodeo Executive Director Seth Doulton.

New this year is a carnival, for those looking for rides of a different kind.

As one of Santa Maria's biggest events, the rodeo not only packs people into the stands, but into many of the city's hotels and restaurants, who say they are full.

So whether this is your first rodeo, or you're a regular, one thing's for sure, this town is raring to go.

Tickets are $20 dollars and are available at the door. Rodeo organizers say they have already sold more pre-sale tickets than this time last year.

The carnival opens at 4, with a rodeo performance at 7. Saturday is the parade... featuring more than 200 entries. It begins at 9 a.m. at Broadway and Mill Street. Then there's another rodeo performance Saturday night at 7.

The festivities run through Sunday. For a full list of events, click here.

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