Since he was 2 years old, Kreece Dearing has been an avid mutton-busting participant in area rodeos, including the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.
Four years ago, the now 9-year-old from Paradise outgrew the sheep-riding event.
“Once you get to be 6 or 7 and you weigh more than 55 pounds, you’re done with mutton bustin’,” his mother, Venita Dearing, said.
But after Kreece’s last go, Stock Show officials invited him back – this time as the show’s inaugural “woolfighter.”
“He does what professional bullfighters do… with sheep,” his mother said.
Most importantly, Kreece slaps on face paint and throws on a comical ensemble in an effort to encourage and aid the young participants.
“I like to encourage the kids because sometimes they get scared,” he said. “I just give them a high five and tell them to do their best.”
He sprinkles in a few dance moves and tricks to entertain the crowd.
“Being the first ever to do this, there are no guidelines,” Venita said. “We’ve kind of just invented this thing as we go.”
With the help of his parents, Kreece pieced together the needed props.
“You have to have a hat, some makeup, and you have to make sure you can borrow your dad’s drawers,” he said.
For his headdress, Kreece affixed a quirky, lighted hat to a Stetson. He said he and his dad, Rodney, “work out different plans” for his makeup each performance. Tuesday’s do featured blue flames and three crosses.
“The crosses represent Jesus,” Kreece said.
He has the oversized britches – held up by suspenders – to complete the look.
His mom also stuck layers of duct tape on a plastic barrel to create a prop similar to the one in which bullfighters seek shelter when being chased by the menacing beasts.
“It’s just a prop,” Venita said. “It’s not like there are going to be any sheep charging at him.”
At each performance, Kreece steps into the rodeo arena, and before the action begins, he takes a knee in prayer for the safety of the riders and the animals.
Then it’s back to funny business. Kreece breaks out his best dance moves and motions for the crowd to “raise the roof” and “pump it up.”
“I like being in front of all those people and entertaining them,” he said. “There’s probably like 1,000.”
Kreece performed during the Best of the West Invitational Ranch Rodeo Jan. 17-18, the Cowboys of Color Rodeo Monday and at Bulls Night Out Tuesday and Wednesday night. Each of those events garners a near sold-out crowd, which totals close to 6,000.
As each mutton-busting contestant blazes through, Kreece is there to help when needed.
With a feather duster in his back pocket and a bag full of candy in his equipment bag, Kreece is prepared to clean off the little cowpokes and reward their ride with a sweet treat.
After all the contestants – typically a dozen – have their go, Kreece and his trusty barrel retreat from the arena to pose for pictures with the young riders and a handful of special fans behind the chutes.
“I also get to take pictures with famous people and pretty girls,” he said.
“It ups his cool factor,” his mother added.
But nothing pleases Kreece more than the opportunity to help the young riders – and the fact that it’s a role he’ll never outgrow.
“I like to make the kids feel special,” he said. “And you can never get too big for this. That’s the best part.”
The 118th Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo continues through Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Will Rogers Coliseum. For more information, visit www.fwssr.com.