Prior to this year, the Tri-State Rodeo to me was something my family attended one time each year to see the reactions on our girls’ faces as the horses and cowboys went flying by kicking up clods of dirt.
We usually purchased seats close to the action so we could feel it and have a nice view of Bobby Reid coming into the stadium. Our girls would always cheer and sometimes scream when cowboys would try to hold on as a 1,500 pound animal jumped four or five feet in the air trying to knock the pesky rider off.
But this year was something different. I was given a media pass to move about the stadium and shoot pictures. I got some great photos but being close to the action with a good piece of equipment and some anticipation can yield good pix for even a novice shooter.
But the real value of the media pass was in the number of people I ran into that were helping put on on the event.
I had no idea the number of people I saw that were helping put this event on day in and day out. I was especially impressed while shooting the Li’l Spurs Rodeo. I went up by the chutes and was going to climb up on the staging areas and shoot pictures from there, but it was packed.
The amazing thing was that every person volunteering and helping with that event was local. Too numerous to mention, but the names Holtkamp, Wilson, Sherwood, Fullenkamp, Culbertson, Andrews, and of course General Chairman Josh Denning all come to mind, and those were just some of the names in official capacities.
Behind the scenes there were even more Fort Madison people involved. Of course, it may all seem very naive of me, but truly until you see all these people donning a cowboy hat behind the scenes it’s really amazing. From the start of the week you have breakfasts and meals being planned, people moving products and supplies in and out of arena facilities, Holy Trinity parents and students helping park and serve meals. Yeah, there is some motivation with funding, but that’s a ton of work. You have social groups stepping up to help sell buttons, serve as ushers, and even helping provide some security.
This year, the committee had to reach out to the community to help fill some of the positions that were normally filled by local schools and service clubs due to reduced numbers in the clubs and participation and the whole week seemed to go off without a hitch.
Even the city is to be commended for getting 15th street up to the arena completed prior to the rodeo and holding off on the main work of the 27th Street intersection until after Rodeo week. They had thought of keeping just one lane open each way during the week.
Josh Denning and the rodeo committee are probably still asleep after the long week, and who could blame them. More than 32,000 people went through the gates this year, marketing was advanced with technology, and the community helped fill the arena with billboards and digital support, and the program continues to grow.
Denning said next year, they may reach out to the community through social media and ask for suggestions on entertainment. This guy and that committee spend an enormous amount of their own time and making sure they put together one of the best rodeos in the midwest. When they reach out for suggestions, make sure you take a few minutes to give them some feedback because, as Denning said, their goal is to provide the best entertainment at a price that makes sense to families in the area.
So, hats off to this year’s rodeo committee and ALL the people who gave of their own time to put on an event that can rival any other event in the Midwest. And here’s looking forward to what they unveil for next year.
By the way, a big kudos to Jesse Rudd, who quickly gathered up the American flag when Bobby Reid missed his mark and landed outside the stadium for the first time in long while. It’s touching to see someone keeping things in perspective. But that’s Beside the Point.