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Falcon Frontier Days Rodeo celebrates 50 years

September 18, 2014

Bull riding at the rodeo.
Bull riding was one of the events during the Falcon Frontier Days Rodeo, Sept. 12-14. The
event took place on the UWRF Campus Farm at the outdoor rodeo arena. (Jack Haren/Student Voice)

It has been 50 years since the first rodeo was held at UW-River Falls. The UWRF Rodeo Club first began in 1964 with support from David Stafford, a member of the first UWRF intercolliegate rodeo team. After the Rodeo Club was established, it quickly gained momentum, and within one year it had 50 members.

After the club was formed, a plan to hold the first UWRF rodeo was formed, a rodeo arena was built, and a stock contractor was hired. The first rodeo had five events: saddle bronc riding, bull riding, bareback bronc riding, bull dogging and calf roping.

Over the years, the rodeos held by the club have evolved to become unique in comparison to others around the River Falls area. “Our rodeo is the only one that gets put on completely by the club,” said Rodeo Club Vice President Melissa Peterson.

Because this was the 50th anniversary of the Falcon Frontier Rodeo Days, past and current supporters of the rodeo were recognized. Alumni from the last 50 years were invited to see how the rodeo has transformed. There were also special events for alumni, including a bean bag tournament and a barbeque.

“For this year’s rodeo we tried to bring back as many alumni as possible. We had alumni that were here when they built the first rodeo arena back in 1964,” said Rodeo Club President Haley Dettmering.

In order to fund the rodeo, the club relies on sponsorship. The rodeo costs more than $25,000 to put on. Surrounding River Falls businesses and rodeo club family members and friends were just some of the sponsors for the event.

“Each year the club raises about $12,000 from the community,” said club advisor Nathan O’Connor. The rodeo averages 300 participants from all across the Great Lakes region. Schools in the Great Lakes region include Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

“We are by far the largest intercollegiate rodeo as far as crowd and local support,” said O’Connor.

In addition to the participants, the rodeo also has an impressive turnout in viewers. On average, over 3,000 people attend the rodeo. The UWRF rodeo is open for anyone to attend.

“I’ve been to rodeo’s back home but never one put on by a college before,” said Katherine Klamm, a freshman animal science major. “I’m proud that my school, UWRF, puts on such a great event.”

To join the rodeo team, the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association requires that members are full-time students with at least a 2.0 GPA. On average, one quarter of Rodeo Club members participate in rodeo events. Some of the most active members do not compete with the team; they are people who have a passion for rodeo, according to O’Connor.

Events at this year’s rodeo included saddle bronc riding, goat tying, calf roping, breakaway roping, team roping, steer wrestling, bareback riding, barrel racing and bull riding.

This year’s rodeo ended with a concert by the Tim Sigler Band. “In the last 50 years the rodeo has gotten a lot more competitive,” said Dettmering.