By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Competitors lined up outside of the Hill County Fairgrounds arena Thursday evening, motorcycle engines revving, waiting to ride into competition in the dusty, sunbaked arena.
The competitors, ages 4 to 13, were about to participate in a new event at the Great Northern Fair - Motorcycle Rodeo, part of Motor Mania.
"Nobody said this was easy," announcer Tyler Smith said as 9-year-old Cooper Jenkins tried to ride his bike with an 85cc engine across a board laid on the ground, around a barrel at the end, back to the board and across the finish line.
The competitors were penalized 5 seconds if their motorcycle left the board or their feet touched the ground.
Hallie Conlan, 10, of Chinook, seventh in line for the board ride, was the first to make it without penalties. She said she practices a lot.
"I ride it every day, at least since I was 7," said Conlan, who won her category at the Motorcycle Rodeo.
Part two of Motor Mania was for adults - sand drags in categories ranging from motorcyles and four-wheeled all-terrain vehicles to souped-up trucks, with cash prizes for the top competitors.
The children in the Motorcycle Rodeo also looked at their event as serious competition.
Some of them are old hands at motorcycle competition. Others were trying it for the first time, riding their 50cc to 85cc bikes in three events with the times totaled for their final score. The events were the pole slant - weaving between seven poles, around a barrel and back through the poles - and doing a motorcycle barrel race as well as the ride on the board.
Scott Hamilton, 8, of Chinook was at his first competition. He said before the event that he didn't know if he would want to keep competing after the Motorcycle Rodeo.
He still wasn't sure after the rodeo.
"Maybe," he said. "I'll see by next summer."
Others compete regularly.
Nick Wood, 13, of Havre said he has been riding in competitions since he was 11, at arenas ranging from the Lohman Motorsports Complex to events at Billings. The Lohman group organized Thursday night's event.
"I've been sand dragging, doing the hill climb and motocross," he said.
Wood took honorable mention at the Motorcycle Rodeo, but he placed third in the motorcycle/ATV section of the sand drags after the rodeo. His father, Curt Wood, took third in the open competition of the sand drag.
Nick Wood said he doesn't really compete to win cash prizes.
"I'm just in it for the fun," he said.
The Shipp family of Havre was well-represented at the Motorcycle Rodeo. All three of Todd and Debbie Shipp's children competed - Ashley, 9, T.J., 7, and Tanner.
Tanner was the youngest competitor at age 4. He said he likes riding, especially practicing at the Lohman Motorsports Complex.
"It's lots of fun," he said.
When the games were over, organizer Jason Nitz awarded medals to the top three competitors, and to the rest for honorable mention.
In the 50cc Peewee event, Tracer Nitz of Havre, 6, took top honors, followed by Ian McIntosh, 6, of Chinook in second, and Travis Hamilton, 6, of Chinook in third.
Brandon Huntinton, 7, of Havre took first in the 50cc junior competition, with Brandon Robertson, 7, of Havre taking second.
Hallie Conlan took first in the 65cc event, with Aaron Vanvalkenburg, 10, of Hogeland taking second and Scott Hamilton taking third.
Cortlan Bickford, 13, of Havre won the 85cc event, with Koolyn Solomon, 11, of Havre placing second and Cooper Jenkins, 9, of Big Sandy taking third.
Jason Nitz told the competitors before he handed out the medals that no one lost.
"Everybody won. That was a great show, guys," he said.