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Ready for the rodeo

Annual Russell rodeo not only draws regular fans, but also competitors who make it a yearly stop

June 8, 2009
By Rae Kruger


He's just getting started, but she's a seasoned veteran. Both were at the annual Russell Bandwagon Days Stampede Rodeo Friday night.

"I've been doing this for three years," Chris Jones of Maple, Wis. said of bull riding. Jones talked as he used roisin to prepare his bull riding rope.

Article Photos

Photo by Rae Kruger
Chad Jones of Maple, Wis. prepares before the bull riding competition Friday night at the annual Russell Stampede Rodeo held as part of the annual Bandwagon Days celebration in Russell.
For more photos from this event, go to page 6A and to

Sharon Munn of Monticello has been competing for 30 years.

"I started roping at about eight," Munn said.

The goal about 25 years ago was to qualify for the Great Lakes Circuit Rodeo and she did.

Another goal was to qualify for the International Finals Rodeo.

She did that. "That was in Tulsa, Okla. in 1984. That was 25 years ago," Munn said. "Time flies when you are having fun."

Now, her goal is, "to stay close to home and make money."

Munn has accomplished her goals during the past 30 years and likes to compete with others at rodeos such as those in Russell.

Jones competes in rodeos such as Russell's to advance his career to the next level.

"Last year was the first year I hit it hard," Jones said. "I did three to four rodeos every week. Every year you set goals. If you don't set goals and just show up and ride...(you don't get better)."

Jones has his Professional Rodeo Circuit Association permit but needs to earn the official card. He'd like to be in the PRCA finals in five years.

"I'm gonna hit it hard for two years and make a decision," Jones said. "I have to see where I'm at."

Rodeos will take Munn and Jones throughout Minnesota, Iowa, the Dakotas, Wisconsin, Missouri, Oklahoma and others states, depending on how many they participate in and where they are willing to travel.

Rodeos such as the one in Russell pay decently and offer good competition.

"I've come here every year," Munn said. "It's a very good quality rodeo. They get a lot of South Dakota cowboys and cowgirls who are tough. They are real good ranch hands."

Munn did well against the competition Friday night as she finished in the top level in breakaway roping and barrel racing.

Munn chose a young horse for the barrel racing.

"He's well bred and is a good balanced horse," Munn said. "He may be the fastest horse here."

But the horse was antsy and found it difficult to stand still before the barrel event.

"'s still a rush, (to compete)," Munn said. "Whenever you win anything it's a rush."

Barrel racing is a timed event and the race depends on quickness and coordination between the horse and rider.

"You have to relax and get the horse relaxed," Munn said. She does so by controlled breathing and positive thinking, she said.

Jones gets a similar rush on while sitting on top of a bull.

"It is a little rush and I enjoy it," Jones said.

Sometimes there is pain to pay for the rush.

"Last year, I think I got bucked off here," Jones said. "Sometimes it hurts. If it hurts, you don't notice it until sometimes 20 minutes later. Last year I shattered my face during practice. Two weeks later, I blew my leg apart. I spent a whole month in the hospital. It is what it is."

The two have spent nights on the road and weekends at arenas with small town crowds cheering.

Like at most rodeos, kids were among the crowd Friday in Russell.

"There is always a bunch of little kids. You are a big deal to them. They want your autograph," Jones said. "The kids look up to you. That makes me feel like a big man."

The most frequent question from kids Munn gets is, "'Can I pet your horse,'" Munn said. "I always let them pet my horse.'"

Munn has few more rodeos and miles than Jones, and, "I wouldn't change a thing," she said before she got back on her horse to compete.



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