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44th annual River Falls rodeo rides into town

September 25, 2008

Cowboys, cowgirls and rodeo enthusiasts across the Midwest all gathered at the Campus Laboratory Farm at UW-River Falls this past weekend to attend the 44th annual Falcon Frontier Days Rodeo.

The event took place Sept. 19 and 20. Riders from schools all over the Great Plains area attended the event, some even traveling 12 hours or more to compete. In addition to Minnesota and Wisconsin, other states represented included North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa. This was an official National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association competition. The NIRA includes over 3,500 members from over 135 colleges and universities. Operating much like the NCAA, the NIRA makes sure standards of competition are followed, as well as provide scholarship opportunities for students, according to the program given out at the rodeo. College rodeo participants usually travel to around 10 events a year, hoping to qualify for the College National Finals.

Competition was broken down into three categories: timed events (team roping, tie down steer wrestling), women’s events (break away roping, goat typing, barrel racing) and riding events (saddle, bareback and bull riding).

UWRF’s own Jordan Cook took top honors in the barrel racing event with the winning time of 34.42 seconds, narrowly edging out her nearest competitor by .17 seconds. Barrel racing is considered a classic women’s rodeo event, and requires extreme balance and precision. South Dakota State University finished first in the men’s team event, and Dickinson State University (N.D.) triumphed in the women’s team event.

The UWRF Rodeo Club deserves all the credit for staging the competition, as members are responsible for planning, organizing and running the event. According to 2008 Rodeo Queen Kayla Wesoloski, a three-year member of the Club, “Club and team members hit the pavement to find sponsors to support this rodeo…they truly show what a group of people can do when working together.”

Nick Burke, vice-president of the Club, stated that the school does not financially support the Club in any way. “It’s up to us to cover our own costs,” he said.

Rodeo can be an extremely rough and dangerous sport, a fact that all riders embrace. After watching one bareback rider limp off after taking a particularly ugly spill, announcer Jesse Knudsen casually remarked “he got slammed harder than a Jagerbomb on boys’ night out.”

The crowd was in a good mood throughout the event, and was eager to cheer on their fellow UWRF students taking part in the competition. Andrew Bauer, a senior finance major, said he enjoyed the event even though he had never been to a rodeo before this fall.

“I had a good time. My favorite part was the bull riding,” he said. “Plus, the cowgirls were cute.”

Many families from the River Falls area were also in attendance.

Cheri Loeffler, a River Falls resident and mother of three, says coming to the rodeo has become an annual event for her family. 

“The kids love it. It is a fun event, and an enjoyable way to spend time together with the family,” she said.

Overall, UWRF Rodeo Club members were pleased with the way the competition turned out. “I would say everything went smoothly and according to plan. There may have been a few minor injuries, but that is the sport of rodeo,” said Burke. When asked whether the club is planning to bring back the rodeo next fall, he replied enthusiastically, “absolutely.”

The club members are planning additional events at UWRF, including a rodeo roundup in the spring.