Rough-and-tumble days at Virginia City rodeo

"I was getting too old to ride bulls," said Burt, who traveled from Apple Valley, Calif., for the Virginia City Rodeo on Saturday. He said he knew he should quit bull riding when he "didn't want to get stepped on anymore."

Burt participated in the calf roping event this weekend and said he doesn't miss bull riding.

Although the Virginia City Rodeo didn't have a bull riding event, bare back riders, calf ropers, team ropers and barrel riders participated in this weekend's competitions.

Rick Chase, an ex-calf roper from Yerington, said roping is the most exciting event at the rodeo.

He said people sometimes comment that the sport seems cruel, but Chase just explains to them that the toughest part of the calf is the neck.

"It's all muscle," he said. "The rules are a lot more humane today with the cattle than they were in the old days."

Burt goes to about 50 rodeos a year, which isn't much compared to some people who have made rodeo their life's work.

Jesse Egan, of Sacramento, Calif., participates in about 125 rodeos a year and has been calf roping since he was 9 years old.

"It's what I'm best at so it's what I do," he said.

One hour before the rodeo about nine entries traveled down Main Street for a parade, said Fran Battencourt, a Dayton resident who rode a buggie pulled by her miniature donkey, Max, for the parade.

Max, who is only 32 inches tall and probably just as wide, wore silver glitter on his hooves and red, white and blue tape wrapped around his legs. His outfit matched the garland and ribbon decorations on Battencourt's buggie.

Max knows he's cute and doesn't mind when people stop to pet him, Battencourt said.

"He got pretty excited for a while," she said. "There was a little female donkey down there and he got excited."

In addition to the parade and the rodeo, Gold Hill hosted an arts and crafts fair.

Local artists set up booths, actors from the Nevada Shakespeare Festival performed scenes from "Twelfth Night" and "Richard III" and clowns entertained the children.


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