Cow Camp: Pure Country FUN!
Stacey Woodruff

Boom . . . Boom . . . BOOM! This is the sound of the huge brown bull with long cream horns as it charges around. Creek . . . goes the red door of the chute as it opens. The crowd roars as dirt flies all across the open arena. Buzz . . . it's the eight second timer: "That's a ride of 84 points, I think that puts this cowboy into first place!" yells the announcer across the excited crowd. The sweet smell of greasy foods cooking on the crackling fire and the sounds of beautiful horses whinnying in the hardwoods and open fields are some of the things I remember from Cow Camp during Labor Day weekend. As my family and I make the long journey up to northern Michigan to the little town of McBain once again this year, I can still picture the rolling hills of this unforgettable country.

Everyone always asks, "What is Cow Camp?" It is a wonderful family and friends get-together on a 500 acre cow pasture out in the middle of pure country. It is also a place where cowboys, cowgirls, horses, and livestock gather from all over the U.S. for five days of fun.

As we pull up to the large green gate and pay for our next weekend of Cow Camp my stomach starts to turn inside out like I am watching a scary movie, but this time it is from excitement as we pull our thirty-foot cream and maroon horse trailer back into the hardwoods where we always camp. The first thing we do is get our horses all situated by wrapping the horses long rugged rope around many tall trees to make a picket line. Here we give them their sweet smelling, dried out hay in dark canvas hay bags along with red buckets of water. Next, we can unpack ourselves and get our campers set up between all the big trees which provide shade for the horses. Some people, however, prefer setting their campers out in the field where the sun is always shining down. No matter where you look, all you see are campers, horse trailers, horses, and people because so many people attend Cow Camp.

One of the greatest parts of Cow Camp is the long days of sitting in the creaky leather saddle that perfectly fits the back of my beautiful, sorrel colored Quarter horse, Foxy, as we ride on the rugged terrain of the cow pasture. Swish, Swish goes Foxy's long sorrel and white tail as he swats at the buzzing flies that are annoying him. Dirty sweat runs down his warm neck from running across the open field. The smooth sailing movements of Foxy as we are running at such a speed is very thrilling, but at the same time relaxing. It makes my heart race like if I was in a race car.

The best part of Cow Camp is Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights because after running wild all day on my horse in the hot glistening sun, we go back to camp feed the horses and ourselves, then head up front to the main arena for the rodeos. After the rodeos are over it is great, because you see all of the cowboys and cowgirls dressed in their straw colored cowboy hats, blue jean wranglers, and cowboy boots of all sorts. Everyone is heading toward the sound of country music for the big dances and blazing bonfires. These events are all located in the front of the rodeo arena by the large log cabin, where people of all ages are out having fun until all hours of the blackened night.

The rodeos are a big part of Cow Camp, and there are a lot of people who participate in all of the different events. Two of my favorite events are the barrel racing and the bull riding. Barrel racing is great because it is the only female event, and it involves a lot of speed. There are three barrels in the arena set up in a clover leaf shape, and each cowgirl and her horse goes one at a time and sees who can clock the fastest time going around the barrels. Bull riding is my other favorite event because it is so dangerous. Each cowboy draws a different bull, climbs on him in the chute, and tries to hold on for eight seconds after he is let out, while spurring the bull to make him buck more. It is really a rough sport.

After the great weekend, Monday rolls around and once again it is time to pack up and head south back home. As we pull out of the hardwoods onto the winding dirt trails I always get emotional. I am sad because another year of rodeos, dancing, and being with my friends and family has passed, but at the same time I am happy because I know another exciting year will soon come and we will be in the PURE COUNTRY once again.

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