Mutton bustin' not for the sheepish

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Brooklyn Marie Forbes, 8, of Chesterville hangs on for dear life at the Mutton Bustin’ event at the Farmington Fair on Saturday.  Forbes went on to win the competition for the girls.

FARMINGTON — Of all the sports in the wide world of athletics, mutton bustin’ is one that’s not for the faint of heart — or the sheepish.

The final day of the 177th year of the Farmington Fair on Saturday included the rough ‘n’ tumble competition of mutton bustin’ — basically, a sheep rodeo.

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At one end of the Pulling Ring building, there was a pen full of sheep — one for each participant. The sheep were brought to the other end of the ring and held in place.

A brave child of age 7 or 8 would put on a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads, get on the sheep and hang on tight.

“Don’t worry about the sheep,” the announcer assured the audience. “If they don’t want to do something, they’ll just lie down.”

The sheep, in a hurry to get back to its brethren, sprinted toward the pen — and the brave buster had to hang on as long as they could. Whoever made it the farthest won.

“Last time I almost broke my butt bone,” said 7-year-old Adam Brown of Exeter, who participated in this year’s and last year’s mutton bustin’ event at the Farmington Fair.

As each “muttoneer” made their way back to their parents or guardians after falling off, they seemed no worse for wear — most were just disappointed they fell off.

Nick Rowe, 8, of New Vineyard won the boys’ competition, and the winner of the girls’ event, Brooklyn Marie Forbes, 8, of Chesterville was the only participant in the category.

Forbes rode her sheep about three-quarters of the way down the ring — a good distance farther than most of the boys who participated.

Rowe rode his sheep all the way to the pen, and did a fancy tuck-and-roll exit maneuver at the last second to avoid going in with the sheep.

Forbes summed up her feelings about the win in two words: “It hurts.” But she clutched her ribbon, T-shirt and $20 bill and smiled.

Rowe, who won the same prizes, said of his win, “I feel good. I felt pretty confident.”

Neal Yeaton, secretary for the fair, said the fair attendance was good overall —about the same compared to past years.

“It was a little slow Monday and Tuesday, but once the sun came out, things turned out pretty well,” Yeaton said.

emarquis@sunmediagroup.net

Andrew Bagley, 8, of Farmington falls gracefully off his sheep at the Mutton Bustin’ event on Saturday at the Farmington Fair.

Jake Corey, 7, of Industry took off with a running start on Saturday during the Mutton Bustin’ event at the Farmington Fair.

Nick Rowe, 8, of New Vineyard tucked and rolled off his sheep at the pen, having ridden all the way there, at the Mutton Bustin’ event on Saturday at the Farmington Fair.  Rowe won the competition for the boys.

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