Davenport fair events are tribute to ranch life
For the last 26 years the Jack Davenport Memorial events of team penning, branding, and ranch sorting have been taking place at the Klickitat County Fair and Rodeo. These events provide fun and entertainment to those who participate and to the people watching from the grand stands.
“The events are a tribute to ranch life,” explains Brandy Myers, the current secretary of the events and granddaughter of Jack Davenport.
Team penning is an event that allows families to work together and have a good time while doing it. There are two divisions, which include open-team penning that requires a three-person team and family penning that requires a four-person team, with two of the members being 13 years or under. There are numbered cattle in the arena that are used for the event. The team is given the numbers of which cows they have to herd into the pen, and there is a time limit of 90 seconds. This year there are 41 teams in the open class and 30 in the family class.
“My favorite event is the family penning, when the kids are involved,” Myers says. Some children who participate are so young that they are taken out on a lead line to help pen the cows.
Branding is another event that is included in the Jack Davenport Memorial events. Teams for the event typically have three members, two ropers and one ground man who together rope and brand one head of cattle in a two-minute time limit. There are 40 teams participating in the open branding, 12 teams in the century branding (to be eligible for the century branding, all of the team members must be 50 years or older), and 32 teams participating in the four-on-two branding division.
“The branding is a tribute to how things used to be done,” Myers says. Since new methods have come to be the norm, this is a way to remember where it all came from.
Then there is ranch sorting with 15 teams that will be participating this year. Ranch sorting takes a team of two riders and 10 cattle numbered zero to nine. The riders must sort the cattle in numerical order from the number called when they cross the starting line. There is a 75-second time limit, and the team must sort as many cattle as they can in that window.
The events are only open to Klickitat County residents and are a source of bragging rights for the rest of the year for those who win. Ranch and farm life is something that runs in the blood of those who do it, and participating at the county fair allows people to demonstrate their skills and have fun.