Kids participate in nightly calf scramble

By Randy McIlvoy - Sports Director

HOUSTON - One of the most popular events at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the nightly calf scramble.

Inside of Reliant Stadium, two hours before Rodeo Houston's show time, brave young men and young women prepare for the biggest battle they've ever faced.

"I'm having a rush just thinking about it, " said one contestant.

Each night, a fresh group of 30 kids between the ages of 14 and 18 get their shot on the big stage.

"These are good kids, good families. They're wholesome," said Jerry Crews, chairman of the calf scramble arena.

Each participant has one halter and they try to capture the 14 calves that are let loose.

"It's one thing when you're looking up at a halter this way, and it's another challenge when you're on your back looking up to the calf and on top of you," said Pat Smith, who serves on the Calf Scramble Committee.

The kids make their way into Reliant Stadium, ready to conquer. Pulling that off is easier said than done. The calves are quick and weigh more than 200 pounds. Even when one is caught, the work is only beginning.

"I've been wrestling calves every day," said another contestant. "I've been winning, but the calves win a few times."

For 15 minutes, it's the ultimate chase and workout. Some achieve their goal and earn that coveted voucher for a free calf.

"You get a complete weight lifted off your shoulder when you're in the square. It's a great feeling." added another contestant from Cypress.

Not everyone comes out on top. Many stumble off dazed and empty-handed.

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