BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – With this year’s Tri-State Rodeo falling on Sept. 11, this year’s theme of “Rodeo Strong” carries a bit more meaning.
With 2020’s parade nixed due to the pandemic, Tri-State Rodeo Parade chair David Fedler said this year’s event will be extra memorable because it comes after a missed year, and it’s also being held on 9/11.
“It’s not just the traditional celebration of the rodeo this year, we’re pushing for a little patriotism in the entries,” Fedler said.
He said entries were a little down from normal and he attributes that to the lingering Delta variant of the coronavirus pandemic and the strain on volunteers.
During normal rodeo years, entries two weeks before the parade were in the 80-90 range with about 25 to 30 coming in at the end. Fedler said those entries are floats and groups outside of the rodeo entries. Those include saddle clubs, Rodeo Royalty, which is the rodeo queens from around Missouri, Iowa and Illinois, and local VIPS.
This year’s grand marshal is Craig Kelly, the perennial voice of the Special Kids Rodeo, a rodeo that caters to adults and children with special needs. That event is part of Ready to Rodeo Week and is held on the Saturday before the rodeo action.
Fedler said entries continue to come in daily.
“I think there’s a little apprehension still because we’re hovering around 60 entries. I would like to see those numbers up a bit, but we’re getting more and more each day,” Fedler said.
Four high school bands are already registered for the judged parade.
With parade Saturday being the 20th anniversary of the attack on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, Fedler said he’s seeing some entries carrying a more patriotic theme.
“One of those entries is a guy with a 6×6 military jeep that he owns and is decorating. That will be an interesting new addition. We’re not really promoting the 9/11 theme, but we are using word of mouth to let people know to be as patriotic as possible,” he said.
He said another unique entry this year is a horse drill team called Grit and Grace out of Pittsfield, Illinois.
“That’s a horse team that drills right in the middle of the street, so I’m interested in seeing that,” he said. “And I think that’s probably the farthest entry away from Fort Madison we have so far.”
The parade is judged by volunteers as always with prizes to the top float entries and top bands. The judging is done by volunteers and each year is different volunteers.
Fedler said Greg Brockman will be doing his 49th parade zooming around the route dressed in clown garb on his scooter.
“You can’t talk about the Fort Madison Rodeo Parade without mentioning Greg Brockman’s contribution,” Fedler said.
Any individuals or groups looking to register can do so up to the day before the parade, but Fedler said the later you register the more likely you’ll be toward the back of what’s quickly becoming a full parade.
“I take entries up til the day before the parade, but just know if they register that late, they will be toward the back. The parade starts at 23rd Street and Avenue G, but back a couple blocks from there everything converges with volunteers. That’s where it all happens,” Fedler said.
With the pandemic still in view, volunteers are still a needed resources, but Fedler said as of right now, he has just enough to do what needs to get done, but additional people would make things even easier. He said that also could be part of the reason why entries are low – that people can’t get volunteers to help build floats and entries.
The parade features more than 1,000 horses and horse entries and kicks off at 9:30 a.m. on Avenue G in downtown Fort Madison.
To register for the Tri-State Rodeo Parade simply click here: https://www.tristaterodeo.org/registration-parade/