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University of Wisconsin-River Falls hosts the 55th annual rodeo

September 18, 2019

University of Wisconsin-River Falls hosted the 55th annual rodeo during the weekend of Friday, Sept. 6 and Saturday, Sept. 7. There were about 3,000 attendees this year and over eight colleges within the Great Plains region participated in the competitions. Some of these colleges include: UWRF, Iowa State University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, South Dakota State University and several others. The university’s Rodeo Club hosts a rodeo each year and also travels to several others across the Great Plains region. 

Rodeo queen
Bree Ann Moderow, the rodeo queen, is assisted by Molly Kelly to her left and
Laura Holt on the right. (Photo by Pat Deninger, University Communications and Marketing)

The Rodeo Club team members seek out sponsorships for the funding of the rodeo each year. President of Rodeo Club, Hannah Bergstrom, talked about how they raise the money for the annual rodeo. “Each of the team members are required to get over $800 in sponsorships from local businesses, so there is a lot of money that goes into this,” said Bergstrom. 

The team members present sponsorship packages to local businesses and that is how they achieve their $800 goal. This is the only way that the rodeo is funded and there are currently about 23 team members.

Among the team members, each contributes something different. There are several different competitions and events that the team competes in. “The events consist of barrels, break away roping, tie-down calf roping and more,” said Bergstrom. 

The Rodeo Club is not classified as a sports team quite yet but Bergstrom said that there are hopes that this may change. “Were working on changing this because we did just hire two new coaches,” said Bergstrom.

The Rodeo Club is considered a student organization and there is a differentiation between the club members and the team members because not everyone involved in the club competes. The entire club however, does participate in other events and activities as a whole. 

Competing in events at the rodeo is a large time commitment in the fall.  The Rodeo Club team members travel to several schools in the great plains region to compete in events at rodeos similar to the annual UWRF rodeo. 

“Were gone Thursdays to Sundays almost all of September and October traveling to other rodeos in our region,” explained Bergstrom. 

There are many events that take place at the annual rodeo. A crowd favorite is called Mutton Busting, this is where children ride sheep. Bergstrom explained in more detail what this event is and why there are usually a lot of participants.  “People love it, we get sheep and their parents sign waivers, then basically the sheep are put in the shoot where a bucking horse or a bull would be and then they put the kid down and open the shoot and the sheep runs around and the kids have to stay on for a certain amount of time,” explained Bergstrom. 

Bergstrom also talked about how they really try to engage the audience and make the experience fun for everyone. There are other events, such as musical chairs on horses for college night and they also organize a boot scramble, where everyone throws their shoes to the other end of the rodeo arena. To get the audience more involved in these events, the club gives out prizes like gift cards or t-shirts. “This year for one of the kids awards we gave away two brand new bikes,” said Bergstrom. 

Some of the main events that take place during the rodeo include bareback riding, team roping, barrel racing, goat tying and breakaway roping along with several other events. According to Bergstrom, some of the more popular events are barrel racing and bareback riding “People enjoy barrel racing because it is fast and exciting and theres upbeat music usually playing,” said Bergstrom. 

Bergstrom also talked about some of the biggest challenges she faces during the annual rodeo. “My Vice President Eric and I were running around all weekend, it is hard to find time to sit down and relax for a minute but there arent many challenges. It can just be a lot at once and just making sure everything runs smoothly,” said Bergstrom. 

Along with challenges there are also rewards that come with the competition. “Im very happy I was elected for the presidency and being with everyone is fun and rewarding and also doing well with your horse is great,” said Bergstrom. 

The rodeo has reached its 55th year of performances and will continue to take place annually as a part of the Falcon Frontier Days. The Rodeo Club is still traveling and competing as well until their season ends in mid-October.