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UWRF cancels 56th annual rodeo

September 28, 2020

Abby Ashauer in the 2019 rodeo
Abby Ashauer performs during the the 2019 Falcon Frontier Days Rodeo in the UWRF Rodeo Arena. (Photo courtesy of Abby Ashauer)

For the past 55 years, UW-River Falls has hosted a rodeo in September. This fall, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the event was canceled.

The rodeo usually has several thousand attendees each year and it is funded by sponsorships that team members find. The club also travels around the midwest to attend and compete in other rodeos. Bailey Woehler, the club’s president, said the organization’s coaches had been planning all summer for different scenarios, to try and make things work. 

“It came down to the school making the decision.” Woehler continued, “They emailed our adviser and coaches and said we just don’t see how it would work for us to be able to put it on.”

Woehler said as long as her club could get approved for traveling to other schools, it was alright. She said the university recently approved the club for traveling, and her list of upcoming destinations included North Platte, Nebraska, Fort Dodge, Iowa, and Dickenson, North Dakota.

“You’re seeing all of your community schools or out of state have made stricter guidelines, but they’re not canceling.” Woehler continued, “It is harder this year because club members can’t travel with us. Last year we had a bunch of members travel with us and so this year it’s hard to even recruit kids.”

Within the club, there are many precautions being taken during practice. Everyone who doesn’t live together has to travel independently and find lodging alone.

“We’re paying for everything this year. Before we fundraised and we got some money from the university, but this year it’s all independent.” Woehler continued, “We are allowing kids to fundraise on their own.”

According to Stephanie Kaminski from the student government finance committee, last year the rodeo club was approved for $5,900. This year, they were approved for $3,000 for supplies and practice equipment, and lodging for one rodeo.