On September 18 and 19, UW-River Falls celebrated the 45-year anniversary of the Annual Falcon Frontier Days Rodeo, put on by the Rodeo Club. The stands were packed with cheering fans as they watched events such as bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding, breakaway roping, calf roping, team roping, steer roping, steer wrestling, goat tying, barrel racing and bull riding.
“The rodeo is put on by the rodeo club team and club members which is the only rodeo in our region that is ran by the students. We take great pride in this and strive to provide the best entertainment possible for our community members along with faculty and fellow students who give us a great deal of support throughout the year,” said Dana Kaye, vice president of the Rodeo Club.
The ground vibrates and gusts of sand sweep into the air from the horses’ hooves as they thunder around the lit up outdoor arena located on Lab Farm 1. Anticipation is felt in the crowd as they scream “Yee haw,” applauding the courageous college competitors from UWRF, South Dakota State, Dickinson State University and Black Hills State University.
The announcer, who is also riding a horse, encourages the audience shouting “What do you think, River Falls?” during the events. The upbeat music, country tunes and rodeo clown also work to rouse the crowd of cowboy hats and silver spurs.
The bucking broncs’ eyes bulge wildly as they ram into the thick metal fences overpowering the blaring speakers, stirring the crowd as they watch potential close calls, like when a male rider is dashboarded over the front end of his horse.
The fierce bulls snort while drool streams from their mouths. They stomp their ton of weight into the sand while narrowing in on their chosen target, whether it be the chained metal fence or even the announcer. The audience watches every move clapping and shouting in excitement for what is to become of the bulls dangerous and unpredictable behavior.
“The rodeo was a huge success again this year,” said Professor Nathan O’Connor, advisor of the Rodeo Club. “The community has always been a strong supporter of the Falcon Frontier Days Rodeo. Attendance this year was close to 3,000 spectators, which is comparable to years past.”
“This year’s rodeo went very smoothly to ones in the past. Our crowds were outstanding supporters both days. Overall, I had a great time,” said Ashley Horsch, president of the Rodeo Club.
“The one thing that stood out this year was the hard work and dedication that our UW-RF students demonstrated in preparing for the rodeo. 99 percent of the work that goes on to conduct this event comes from student volunteers. I was extremely proud of their effort this year,” said O’Connor.
Families are also encouraged to get involved in the rodeo. “This year we dedicated Saturday performances to families. We had mutton bustin’(kids ride sheep and try to stay on as long as they can),” said Horsch. The Rodeo Club also put on a kids event called the “boot scramble” where they mix up the children’s shoes and the first three boys and girls to retrieve their original shoes win a prize.
The UWRF Rodeo History began in 1964 by David Stafford who organized the UWRF Rodeo Club. According to the college rodeo history, in less than one year, the club included over 50 members and the plan began for the First Annual Falcon Frontier Days Rodeo. Every year following, the Rodeo Club has worked hard to put on college rodeos for the fans in the River Falls area.
According to Kaye, “The River Falls Rodeo Team will be traveling to Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska throughout this academic year to compete at other schools that are hosting college rodeos, in hopes of becoming a better athlete and making it to the College National Finals Rodeo in June held in Casper, Wyoming.”