SALINE COUNTY -- The cowboys wait, hands on their lassoes, next to the gate in the corral, ready for the action to start.
Suddenly, a calf springs from the gate, and the duo go into action, whirling their ropes above their heads before throwing them, successful in their efforts.
Except this isn't a normal calf, and those aren't two average cowboys working the pen.
Braxton Davis, 10, and his younger brother Cash, 7, are two Marion brothers who compete in rodeo events. They've recently returned from the National Little Britches Rodeo Association Finals in Guthrie, Oklahoma, where both competed in various rodeo events.
Cash competed in roping events, while Braxton competed in goat tying, team roping, ribbon roping, breakaway roping and flags, their mother Tara Davis said.
The boys have a small corral set up at the Saline County Fair next to the exhibition hall where, for $1, the pair offer fairgoers a shot at roping their mechanical calf, which is a life-size replica on wheels that bursts forth from a spring-loaded gate.
When they don't have any customers, the brothers practice their roping skills continuously, honing their craft, under the watch of mom and dad, Kyle.
It's not something they do just for show at the fair either.
"They do this all the time. It's something they love to do. They're always roping," Tara said.
They also have a roping simulator they can use in the truck, she said, but they really enjoy going to their uncle's farm, where they get rodeo experience with live animals.
In an age when many boys their age prefer video games, the Davis boys are a testament to the fun and excitement of rodeo sports.
"This is something they really enjoy, and they're good at it," Tara said. "And, we're very proud of them."
The Saline County Fair also featured a tractor pull Thursday night, with tractor drivers across Illinois as well as Indiana competed in several events, delighting the crowd as tractor exhausts billowed heavy, black smoke -- and front ends often raised from the ground while pulling a weighted sled.
The fair continues tonight with the Whippoorwill Rodeo and Saturday with the demolition derby.