General News

17 July, 2023

Record-breaking Mareeba Rodeo

A RETURN to a two-day format saw nearly 10,000 people flock to the Mareeba Rodeo for an action-packed weekend.

By Ellie Fink

Joe Down takes on a bull at the Mareeba Rodeo.
Joe Down takes on a bull at the Mareeba Rodeo.

For the first time in recent history, camping had to be cut off due to the large number of patrons coming through the gates of Kerribee Park. 

Competitors from across the country headed to Mareeba to compete in one of the biggest ABCRA events in Australia and it was Heath Nicholls who took home Top Cowboy whilst Top Cowgirl was tied between Sallie Pilgrim and Robyn McKellar. 

In the Mareeba Rodeo Queen Quest, it was Raquel France who took the crown, with Amber Collumb taking the Princess title during Friday night’s downtown parade. 

Ms France was proud to be crowned Queen in this year’s quest, following in her mother’s footsteps – Sharelle France (nee. Dyer) was crowned Mareeba Rodeo Queen in 1994. 

The best Queen float on Friday night was won by Albina Niceforo, while the best trade display was Ringers Rest, best organisation/community group was Mulungu and best sporting theme was Mareeba Gymnastics.

Mareeba Mothers and Midwives took out best overall float, while Rowena Petersen was named best turned-out rider, and best riding group was Dee’s Horsemanship. 

Saturday night had the biggest crowd the rodeo executive committee had ever seen before, with the rain staying away, as fan favourites, the Mazda Challenge and State of Origin, kicked off at sunset. 

Rodeo president Peter Brown said the origin was the biggest highlight of the entire event, attracting Queenslanders and New South “Welshmen” from near and far for the event. 

“It all came down to the final ride – it was win or lose,” he said. 

“(Other highlights) were the crowning of the Queen on Friday night at the downtown parade which had a fairly big crowd, the state of origin and watching the final bull ride.

“Eli Toby rode really well in the final bull ride on a very good bull called Mexican Joe, taking out the win and it just finished off the weekend perfectly.”

In the final rounds on Sunday afternoon, rain threatened patrons in the grandstands, but it didn’t stop the competitors from putting on a great show. 

Champion Lamont bull, Pandemonium, made himself known in the arena once again in what will be one of his final rides as he retires at the end of the year. 

Rider Joe Down took on the notoriously difficult bull, hoping to be the first to make eight seconds on the unridden bull. 

“He’s a little spinning bull and the bloke who won the overall bull ride, he got on Pandemonium and got seven seconds on him which is the most anyone has ever done,” Mr Brown said. 

“Pandemonium, he is a part of the Great Northern Bullriding series, and I see him at every event, and he is just too good, too fast and too quick and he is little and agile – a true gentlemen.”

Injuries were minimal this year with only a few “bumps and bruises here and there”, according to Mr Brown. 

The only major incident was with cowboy, Cody Meade, who took a hoof to the head, splitting his forehead during the saddle bronc in the last hour of the finals.

Although rocking the cowboy, he still walked out of the arena with his head high. 

“He came out in true cowboy fashion and walked out of the arena himself. Those cowboys don’t like being carried out, especially in a packed stadium,” Mr Brown said. 

Patrons were well behaved over the weekend with no major incidents from campers and day-goers to report. 

Coming back to the traditional two-day event has proved to be popular.

“I certainly think it made it bigger and a bit more tiring because you’ve got two weeks leading up to the event to get ready,” he said. 

“It is tradition – it is a two-day event, and will it be two days next year? Absolutely I think it will be.

“We obviously will need to see how numbers stack up and see whether it can stay to two days or maybe go back to one – we have 12 months to see.”

Mr Brown also congratulated the committee for their hard work and thanked all those who attended the event, making it the success it was. 


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