Cotton Festival Blog #4: Mutton Busting and Rodeo

At the heart of the Cotton Festival is rodeo. From adult demonstrations to young riders and ropers, the best that Marana has to offer will be on display during the Marana Cotton Festival. The University of Arizona Rodeo Club will put on team roping and barrel racing demonstrations during the event.  

Even the youngest and least experienced in rodeo have a chance to participate in several events. For the thrill-seekers there is Mutton Busting, where well-padded children ages 4-6 ride on the back of sheep and try to hold on as long as they can.  With the child on-board, the sheep will race into the arena, creating a bumpy, exhilarating ride.

Children wear helmets with safety cages as well as padded vests, and the sheep are chosen based upon the age and weight of the child to help ensure both are as safe as possible.

The cost of the event is $20 and you must pre-register your rider at

The event is fun for both the riders as well as the spectators, and is a highlight of the Cotton Festival. It is a great introduction to the sport of rodeo and a fun way to experience livestock in in a different setting than many children are accustomed.

Not sure if Mutton Busting is right for your child? Then the Boot Scramble is another fun way to participate in the events. The Boot Scramble is a race where children have to find their boot in a big pile, put it on, then race back to the finish line.

There is far more to the Marana Cotton Festival than just rodeo events. There are free carnival rides, music from the Marana Community Choir and Blue Monsoon, food trucks, petting zoos, two beer gardens, and the giant cotton pile which is more fun for the kids than you can imagine. Admission and most of the festivities are free, though there are costs for food and drinks.