That’s a wrap! The 64th Florida Sheriff’s Boys Ranch Open House & Horse Show ended Sunday. Due to hurricanes and COVID, they weren’t able to have an open house the last two years so it was good to see it happening again this year. It takes a lot of work to prepare for and put on this open house. Each cottage is assigned their tasks for the preparation and during the open house as well as most of the staff members. The kitchen staff works tirelessly preparing food, not only for the regular lunch and dinner meals for everyone in the houses, but also the barbeque dinner, hamburgers and hot dogs meal, and the sides for the traditional rice pilau dinner. Sheriffs from several counties have deputies and equipment here several days in advance of this special weekend and they help prepare the rice pilau.
Riding clubs from around the area plan and participate in several arena games. They have barrel racing, the game they call pole bending, where they weave in and out of the poles and the ever-popular “buddy pick up”. For the “buddy pick up”, the rider has to go to the end of the arena as fast as they can go and pick up the “buddy” at the end, get them on the horse, and back to the start in a timed race. The only requirement is that they have to get the rider on the horse and back to the start. Many times, the rider is barely on the horse but as long as they cross the line before the “buddy” falls off, it counts.
For several months prior to the open house, youth who are interested, work hard and try out to be a “Riding Rancher”. Riding Ranchers are part of the show. They do a precision riding display, kick off the show with the Grand Entry, and participate in some of the games. At times, they may march in local community parades, such as the Live Oak Christmas parade. Most of the ranchers have never been on a horse before this opportunity to try out for the Riding Ranchers. They have to work hard, learn to control and direct the horse as well as learn how to take care of a horse.
Not only for the Ranchers but for all attendees is the Friday and Saturday night dance that all the kids seem to enjoy.
House Parents have their work cut out for them as well to make this event a success. The youth have to be where they need to be at the time they need to be there and the house parent needs to make sure they get there. Cottages have to be “tour ready”. Houseparents have to supervise many extra tasks besides just their youth during the activities which include the dances.
The grounds all around the arena are sectioned off to identify camping spots for those coming for the weekend. Tents are set up. The stage for the dance and Sunday morning church service has to be set up. Power has to be run. Since the grounds around the arena are used for grazing most of the time, the grounds need to have some clean-up done. The pavilions and bathrooms need to be cleaned. Tables and Chairs need to be brought in and moved to different locations as needed. Most of this is done by the Maintenance, Rec Dept, and Farmworkers. This includes youth and staff.
So many people are involved in making this work. Staff from the Main Office served the Barbeque dinner. I saw some teachers at the Welcome Tent. I know the Chaplain was around and helped in different areas besides just Sunday morning service.
People in the Admin office had different tasks assigned. There were so many people helping out in so many areas, I’m sure I’m missing several since I’m going from memory.
Another favorite thing that happens at the open house is that many Alumni return and reconnect with many housemates, friends, teachers, that they know from when they were residents here.
Normally, I insert pictures throughout my post. This time, I’m putting pictures I took throughout the weekend in the end for just a little display of what we saw at this open house. The next one will be in February 2023. Find out more at their website https://www.youthranches.org You may want to plan to be there!