HARRISONBURG — Matthew Jones has watched the Bobcat Rodeo for two years now, taking mental notes for when he gives it a try himself.

Matthew, 13, of Mount Solon, is not old enough to participate, but is counting down the days until he can get his time inside the skid loader.

“He loves the equipment,” said Cindy Jones, mother of Matthew Jones. “He isn’t old enough to do it right now, so he is studying for the future.”

Matthew said he could probably complete Tuesday’s setup in about 20-25 minutes.

For those who were old enough to participate, the 20th annual Bobcat Rodeo featured four separate events that showcase the skill and speed the competitors have when operating a Bobcat.

More than 20 people signed up to compete for the grand prize of a free month to use a skid loader from the Valley Equipment Co.

Skid loaders typically cost more than $1,500.

Participants were divided into four groups of five or more.

Those lined up for the first event took their shot at Bobcat putt-putt, where the participant had three minutes to knock a basketball into a bucket.

The second event, called “loading the gun,” involved grabbing an object and placing it inside a sleeve located in a nearby bucket. Competitors had three minutes to complete the task.

For the third event, competitors had to balance a softball on the skid loader's fork, drive down one length of the field and back while riding over a small dirt hill all while not having the softball drop. A three-second penalty was given each time the softball dropped to the ground.

The final event was the more popular event called the serpentine. Competitors had to race down the field, come back to the starting point by moving in and out of 11 poles for two rounds.

For first-timer Danny McClung, 52, of Fairfield, he decided to try it out “just for the fun of it.”

“My buddy did it before and he talked me into doing it this year,” McClung said. “I am excited to see how I do and to have fun and make a fool of myself.”

Bobcat Rodeo regular Matt Coffman, 31, of McGaheysville, came to take the first place ranking.

Coffman has competed in the Bobcat Rodeo for the last 10 years and has placed third three times.

“I do it for the fun of it,” Coffman said. “The serpentine is my favorite and I plan on doing this for awhile.”

Contact Jessica Wetzler at 574-6279 or jwetzler@dnronline.com. Follow Jessica on Twitter @wetzler_jessica

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