Sunday, October 12, 2014

GA National Fair; Mutton Busting?

So, I've gone to the Virginia State Fair every year for the past... oh, I don't know how many years. I've gone with family, friends, coworkers on a field trip... and I've always had a good time! David, on the other hand, had never been to a fair. Until yesterday! We went to the Georgia National Fair. (Why is it called a national fair? I have no idea.)  I find it hilarious that teachers get a Fall Break and that the week off from school coincides with the week the fair comes to town, but don't get me wrong... I also absolutely love it.  And the fact that we have 88 degree October weather. 

My main purpose for this post is to explore the concept of Mutton Busting, something which I've never seen at any of the other state/county fairs I've been to. I'm sure those of you from Georgia and other southern states are already familiar with the concept.

In case you're not.... Mutton busting is an event in which children ride sheep. Let's dive into that a little deeper. According to Wool Riders Only, the company at the GA National Fair, sheep riding is open to any child ages 4-7 who weigh less than 60 pounds. The goal is for the child to hold onto and ride the sheep for 6 seconds.  

Unaware that this was a child sport, David and I meandered over to the Wool Riders area as the show was starting.  The guy announced the first rider's name, followed by the fact that she was THREE YEARS OLD and however much she weighed.  I looked around at the other people in the stands and I seemed to be the only one having a minor heart attack.

Of COURSE she fell and hit the dirt as soon as the guy helping her on the sheep let her and the sheep go. We watched (me in horrified shock) as other kids extended their arms for the fall and one kid took a face full of dirt. 

I walked up to the stand and asked the guy to see a copy of the waiver. He thought I was looking for some sort of loophole so I could ride a sheep. I explained to him that I had no interest in riding a sheep, but that I was a kindergarten teacher and felt nervous watching the young kids; that I was surprised a parent would willingly pay money to guarantee her child be hurt

Okay. Maybe they're not *guaranteed* to get hurt, but they are guaranteed to fall. Off a sheep. In the dirt. A 3-7 year old. That's also a huge jump. A 3 year old is practically a BABY! 

So anyway.. literally the first line of the waiver says "blah blah blah I understand this is a highly dangerous activity and that sheep are wild animals blah blah blah." I asked the guy if it was common that children get hurt in the show. His response? 

"Oh, yeah! All the time! They put their arms out for the fall and that's when they're likely to get a fracture. Kids are resilient. We just had a girl in California fall and put her arm out and dislocate her shoulder. But she loved it. She was laughing all the way to the ambulance."

Am I the only one who thinks this is ABSURD?!?!?!?!?!

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