Rodeo fans can still break out the cameras and cowboy boots to watch nearly 1,000 young cowboys and cowgirls compete at the final six performances of the 19th annual International Finals Youth Rodeo competition today through Friday.

The competition, themed “It’s Worth the Ride,” will take place at 7:30 p.m. today, and 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center, 1700 W. Independence in Shawnee. The top-ranking 15 in each event will compete at 7:30 p.m. Friday. 

Up to 120 cowboys and cowgirls will face off in each of the 10 events in the center’s three arenas, said Gordona Rowell, Shawnee Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director.

Contests include barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, goat tying, team roping, calf roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronco riding, bull riding and bareback riding.

“It’s exciting to see kids this young do what they do so well,” Rowell said.

“There’s a lot of skill required and a lot of practice goes into that.”

Spectators can take a break from the excitement at the event’s Western trade show, which closes at 9 p.m. Friday.

Advance tickets are $8, or $10 at the gate. Children’s tickets are $5, and seniors are $9. For more information, call 275-7020 or visit —Alex Ewald

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