Little Britches Rodeo

Eight-year-old Cole Scheetz stands with his hands on his hips next to two stick horses lying on the ground at the Hallsville Fairgrounds stables. Cole looks like a real cowboy with his dirt-covered boots, long blue jeans, belt buckle, cowboy hat and light-blue shirt.

“I’m not competing this year,” Cole says. “I won it last year, so I’m going to let someone else win this year.”

Cole embodies the competitive yet friendly atmosphere that defines the Little Britches Rodeo, which opens the Heritage Festival in Hallsville. Children 8 years and younger compete in rodeo-style events, including calf roping, pole bending and barrel racing. Instead of real horses, they run with stick horses between their legs.

Before the events start, there is a question-and-answer session with three judges: Michaela Horstman, Amanda Young and Brooke Young. While sitting on lounge chairs, they quiz the kids one after another about their outfits. In the end, they will select the best-dressed cowboy and cowgirl.

“That’s an interesting horse you got there,” Amanda Young says while the other judges laugh.

Opposite the judges, Tyger Cobb stands in red boots, a red and black vest and a cowboy hat, holding a stick elephant.

“No, it's not a horse,” Tyger replies. “He’s an elephant, and his name is Lenny.”

He won for best-dressed cowboy.

Mud Volleyball casualty.

Mud Volleyball at Hallsville, Mo. I went to this town of roughly 200 people to photograph frog and turtle races. It turned out they held the competitions indoors. Luckily, they play mud volleyball outdoors.

Mud Volleyball: Looking up.

I went to the Missouri High School Rodeo Championships at the Boone County Fairgrounds over the weekend. I didn't like anything from my first night. So I went back the next evening. I tried to rely on what little natural lighting peaked through the doors.


These are my favorites. I guess I have a corner on church photography.

Cowboy Church

Thanks A-Dub for the find.

At twilight, standing on a grassy field next to a pond, a small group gathers outside Pamela and Terry Lambert’s house just outside of Sturgeon. Flanked by a cool breeze from the west, they overlook a grass field while purple martins chirp and horses neigh. These are the surroundings of the Stable Ministries.

Also known as Cowboy Church, a small group of congregants and two church leaders convene each Tuesday evening in front of a small log cabin at the Lambert residence. According to Terry Lambert, minister of Stable Ministries, the church’s members go to rodeos or work on their farms over the weekend.

“Some people come here because they are too busy on Sundays,” Terry said. “Others belong to another church and can’t get their fill of God.”

The service begins with Pamela Lambert leading the congregation in a round of song. Because Cowboy Church has no religious affiliation, Pamela, the official church choir leader, is liberal in her pickings. So it is no surprise when her group rejoices to the gospel music of Randy Travis or Carrie Underwood.

“You wouldn’t believe it, but I used to be afraid to speak in public when I was younger,” Terry said. “Now the Holy Spirit writes my sermons, and I just deliver them.”

Before and after prayer, Terry helps the kids ride his pony, Sweetie, while congregants munch on fresh doughnuts and iced tea. Cowboy Church brings together a community while evoking religion in a relaxed atmosphere.

The NCAA baseball regionals were held at Taylor Stadium in Columbia for the first time since 1965.

The Shire of Amlesmore

As Killian Winterwolf puts on his gray helmet, Orion Harman and Rob Howell are already hacking each other with their duct tape-covered swords. Underneath a maroon canopy, one of the modern conveniences that continuously stands unnoticed, Chris Harman weaves wool while Mark Abbott unveils the group’s flag. The fighters’ chain and plate armor jingles and clangs to the pace of their movements.

“We’re padded pretty well,” Winterwolf said. “But I always seem to go home with some bruises.”

The Shire of Amlesmore meets each Sunday at Tribble Park in Hallsville. While other families bring their kids to play on the swings, this group gathers to sew, eat lunch, discuss medieval history and sword fight. Established in 2003, the Shire is part of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a national organization that celebrates the culture of the Middle Ages.

“We try to keep our gear as realistic as we can,” Abbott said, “although our main priority is to have a good time.”

At the Shire of Amlesmore, it is OK to break the rules. The members dress up and participate in period activities. Yet when Bob Martin makes a replica stained glass window, one of the many medieval activities Shire members re-create, he has no problem using modern conveniences. Martin gladly uses foil, the safer but nonperiod method to stained glass window-making.

“In the SCA, there’s a 10-foot rule for the beginners,” Martin said. “If an object looks realistic from 10 feet away, we’re fine with it.”

I drove down to Olean, Missouri on Saturday to photograph the 14th annual Testicle Festival. This is an event of local flavor, where they take turkey testicles and deep-fry them. I think Oleanites have spent too much time in Missouri.

The Studio... and all its fun.