The Royal Agricultural Society of WA hosted a ‘you beaut’ country-themed spectacular at the Claremont Showgrounds at the weekend, giving city slickers the chance to enjoy the best of rural life and entertainment. The inaugural Muster Rodeo and Music Festival held on May 13 attracted a crowd of more than 13,000, with many country music and rodeo fans from all parts of WA sharing in the extravaganza. To the beat of country music star Lee Kernaghan’s hit song ‘The Boys From The Bush (are back in town)‘, the combined rodeo and music festival was the first time the two events had come together in the Perth metro area. It brought WA’s best rural rodeo competitors together with Australia’s top country music artists. Known as Australia’s most-loved country music and outback icon, Kernaghan was accompanied by genre-defying singer and songwriter Kasey Chambers. Both were making a comeback to the Claremont stage after singing their hits at the Perth City Muster in 2010 to a crowd of 6000. This year, they were supported by Casey Barnes, who sang his ARIA Album of the year ‘Light It Up’, while Amy Sheppard sung to the tune of a new solo career and the Kingswood band, with lead vocals from Alex Lacka, performed their iconic indi-rock music. With more than double the amount of people at previous renditions of the Perth City Muster, it was truly a sign of how country music has continued to successfully tell the story of rural Australia. Royal Agricultural Society of WA chief executive Robyn Sermon said country music told the stories of people living and working on the land and the muster brought people together to share and celebrate the community spirit of regional WA. “It was a great fun event that combined the sport of rodeo with music and country-themed entertainment,” she said. “RASWA is well-recognised as having an important role in connecting the State’s agricultural community, and this event combines aspects that bring people from the country and city together through enjoying shared experiences of music, sport and fun.” The event’s action-packed program kicked off with 146 rodeo competitors, including 32 in junior events (some as young as under-11), vying for points across 196 runs in categories. This included steer and bull riding, bareback, saddle bronc, barrel racing, breakaway roping, steer undecorating, steer wrestling and team roping. Rodeo coordinators Mark and Jo Kestel of Double Barrel Entertainment brought the thrills and spills back to the Claremont Oval, with competitors giving a show-stopping performance throughout the day. Rodeo veteran Grant Edwards said the RASWA hosted rodeos in the 1960s and 70s but on a smaller scale. “Rodeo has come a long way since then, it’s more professional under the strict guidelines of the Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association,” he said. “It was a great opportunity to showcase the sport to the general public, to show how rodeo animals are trained to be athletic and stress-free.” Kernaghan showed his support for rodeo by encouraging some of WA’s best local junior competitors to make it on the big stage by connecting with the world’s best rodeo performers through an app. Gingin junior steer riding cowboy Coby McCarthy was in awe when he met country music legend Kernaghan in person, asking him to sing ‘The Boys From The Bush’ at his stage performance. “I’ve never met a country music star before,” he said. But The Muster wasn’t just about the boys from the bush, with top talent from female musicians and rodeo performers on display. Esperance farmhand Bella Gatto, 17, has been competing favourably in steer and novice bull riding in recent years. She won the 14 to under-18 steer ride and took a soft landing buck-off in the novice bulls. “Luckily, the sand was super-soft so no injuries and I will be back seeding on Tuesday,” she said. Also included in The Muster was a beaut ute competition, carnival rides, a mechanical bucking bull, food trucks, saloon bars and fireworks.