It’s anybody’s guest why Little Boots Rodeo organizers include Chicago’s very own Svengoolie on the guest list, but even if he doesn’t show up with a Texas drawl and wearing a 10-gallon hat, attendees love meeting him and always line up for autographs. The “crypt keeper’s” appearance at the intersection of Arlington Heights Road and Devon Avenue in the Chicago suburb of Elk Grove Village this weekend isn’t the only non-western attraction on the menu – also scheduled for a guest appearance is the Oscar Mayer Weinermoble. That stated, there’s plenty of old-fashioned rodeo fun on the schedule – once you get past the ghoul and the roaming wiener.
It’s a Family Affair. Unlike many of Chicago’s summer festivals appealing to the sensibilities and tastes of adults, Little Boots Rodeo (www.littlebootsrodeo.org/) lives up to its name: if you wear a dude’s size 11 Frye boot, make sure a little person accompanies you. From noon to 5:00 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, there’s so much on deck to amuse boys and girls, your kids will be exhausted by the time you get them home early enough to pick up the sitter and enjoy an evening out. Admission is free, but there’s a small fee to participate in events. Not to worry. Even a family on a tight budget can afford the $10 event ticket that allows a child to exhaust himself while trying out 12 activities. Oh, and the ten bucks also includes a drink and a hot dog.
Kids Learn Lots. At the Little Boots Rodeo, “learning by doing” rules the day. Children learn lots of important lessons about the past while they’re entertained: She can practice milking a cow and panning for gold, giving you perfect opportunities to use books checked out from your library’s juvenile collection to talk about farming in the old west and the American Gold Rush. While you probably won’t encourage your youngster to take up his profession, you will get the opportunity to talk about “alternative careers” and the importance of wearing safety helmets as you and the kids watch David Smith Jr. – also known as America’s Got Talent’s Human Cannonball – explode from the barrel of a cannon on both days.
Plenty of Action. If the Weinermobile, Svengooli and a human cannonball don’t do much to remind you of a typical American rodeo, the remainder of the attractions scheduled for next weekend won’t disappoint. You and the kids can get in on the bronco riding, pig races, duck races, camel and pony rides and there’s a petting zoo and a wild west shooting gallery at the Little Boots Rodeo to expend some of that enthusiasm and energy. Turn the kids loose on a western wagon ride, mechanical bull or they can ride the Little Boots Railroad. Face painting artists will be on hand to finish off the day with a flourish. If the kids refuse to have the face art washed off after a full day at the rodeo, replace your good pillowcase with an old one!
Rewards Just For You. Sure, the Little Boots Rodeo focuses on all kids, all the time, but event planners know that it can take an incentive to get parents out the door when pressing errands and tasks await, so an auxiliary craft and vendor show is scheduled to take place adjacent to the rodeo from noon to 5 p.m. as well. And if the TV show “Toddlers and Tiaras” is your guilty pleasure, enter your child in either the Best Dressed Cowgirl or Cowboy Award contest and watch your child compete for the prize. Need a break from the action? Get out the camera and arrange to have yourself confined to the Jail For Parents. This activity delights kids long after the rodeo pulls up stakes and heads into the western sunset, so photos are important.