JUST over 4000 people flocked to the Orange Rodeo on Saturday night including teenager John Crasti who was seriously injured while competing in last year’s event.
Despite being left wheelchair-bound after a 680kg bull fell on him last year, Mr Crasti said he had no intention of missing this year’s rodeo and he even tried his hand at compering.
“It was pretty good jumping behind the mike,” he said. “I don’t know how I went though, it was a bit daunting.”
Mr Crasti said being confined to a wheelchair meant it was difficult to see the riders and the chute where the riders mounted the animals.
“[However] I was really happy that I did see one of my friends Mitch Tidyman get the John Crasti Foundation buckle for winning the second novice bull ride,” he said.
Despite classing last year’s incident as a “freak accident”, Mr Crasti admits it was difficult watching friends getting ready to ride in the same chute where his accident occurred.
“It made me realise how shit the chutes are, how bad they really are,” he said.
Mr Crasti said he’d already met with Orange City Council staff to talk about upgrades to the Orange Showground equipment used to stage the rodeo, including the chutes, and is hopeful he’ll get the support of the Orange Show Society.
“There’s been two successful rodeos there, so there’s an incentive to fix it,” he said.
“It’s just that some of the equipment is about 30 years old.
“It would not only benefit the rodeo but also the campdrafters.”
Mr Crasti says he expects the Orange Rodeo to continue to grow.
“I think it’s a fantastic event, it’s great to just throw down a picnic rug and watch,” he said.
“This year was even bigger than last year.”
Mr Crasti said the rodeo also provided an opportunity for him to thank everyone who had thrown their support behind him over the past 12 months.
“I saw lots of people I hadn’t seen in a while as well as people who saw the accident,” he said.
The John Crasti Foundation is raising money to fund the purchase of a range of equipment needed to help Mr Crasti in his recovery.
“It will help me get my life back to as normal as it can be,” he said.