Young cowpokes rope and ride at Coahoma kindergarten rodeo

COAHOMA — They were ropin' and ridin' — and singin' and dancin', for that matter — Thursday in Coahoma.The “they” in question were 60 or so tiny cowboys and cowgirls who entertained a large crowd at the elementary gym during the 34th annual Coahoma Kindergarten Rodeo.There were clowns and bronc riders and ropers and racers and just about everything you expect to see at a grown-up rodeo. Stick horses were substituted for actual livestock, but that did nothing to lessen the entertainment factor.In addition to roping and riding, the children also serenaded the crowd with several rodeo-themed songs and put on a square-dancing demonstration for good measure.The rodeo began as the brainchild of famed rodeo clown Quail Dobbs in 1978,The tykes were joined by adult rodeo counterparts like long-time announcer Ben Clements, clown Jim Bob Feller and Miss Rodeo Texas, Lauren Graham, and it was obvious that the grown-ups had just as much fun as the kids during the event.“This is something I wouldn't miss for the world,” Clements said. “I did my first (kindergarten rodeo) about 12 years ago. The announcer they had scheduled couldn't come, so Quail asked me to fill in. I came here about half-prepared — I wasn't expecting the great event that this is.”Aside from the fun factor, however, Clements believes the kindergarten rodeo is a great ambassador for the sport that has been his profession and passion for so long.“Rodeo is my livelihood, but there are so many people out there who don't understand the sport,” he said. “This helps the kids understand rodeo … events like this just make the sport bigger and better.”New Coahoma Independent School District Superintendent Amy Jacobs had a unique prospective at Thursday's event — not only was she attending her first kindergarten rodeo, but her son, McCray, was a participant.“This is something I've been hearing about since I first came here,” Jacobs said. “It didn't just meet my expectations, it exceeded them. It's just amazing how everything came together. It was pretty phenomenal … and my kindergartner gave it rave reviews, also.”The star of the show — aside from the children, of course — was Dobbs, but he said the real stars were the children and kindergarten teachers Sheila Holt, Connie Twillegear and Jennifer Baccari and aide Larinda Harrison, who organized the event.“The kindergarten teachers do everything. All I do is show up,” Dobbs said. “Somehow, I get all the credit, but the teachers deserve it.”