Hanging on for a good time

Stampede Rodeo always a crowd pleaser during Western Fest

Photos by Sabrina Pankratz Bareback rider holding on for eight seconds at the Western Fest Stampede rodeo Saturday evening. See more photos on page 8A

GRANITE FALLS — Attending the annual Western Fest PRCA Stampede Rodeo is a popular tradition for rodeo fans in southwest Minnesota. Even for the cowboys and cowgirls competing in the three-night rodeo.

“I’ve been coming here for seven years, this is the first time I’ve ever won anything here,” said Cody Huber, who won the calf roping Saturday evening.

“I came to win this rodeo,” said Tucker White of Nebraska. He competed in the team roping competition with his brother.

The Rodeo was just one of the events during the four-day Western Fest. Morning events on Saturday included s a rodeo 5k run and western fest walk, a brunch with Miss Western Fest Queen at Rock Haven, and a barbecue put on by the fireman’s barbecue.

The afternoon was followed by a parade and the Miss Western Fest Pageant.

Thunderstorm warnings didn’t keep Natasha Shultz from Granite Falls from not attending the 31st Stampede Rodeo Saturday night. She was sitting with her family in the stands said.

“I’ve been coming here since I was little and it’s just something I’ve done every year. Since I had these guys (my kids) this is the first time we haven’t come all three nights, but usually we come all three nights. The kids love it.”

The Shultz’s family was not the only family to come to the rodeo. John and Heather Ostenderf brought their children for the fourth year.

“We come for the hospitality and the bull riding. My daughters are here too, but they took off earlier,” said John Ostenderf.

A yearly tradition held by the Rodeo was the Mutton Busting for the kids all weekend. The Mutton Busting allowed 35 kids to ride a sheep for 6 seconds on each night of the rodeo. Many kids stayed atop their sheep on Saturday night.

The stands were packed for the evening events including bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, bull riding, team roping, and barrel racing.

Cowboys and Cowgirls from all over the Midwest came to participate in this weekend’s three day rodeo in hopes to win.

Gabi Van Sickle was crowned Miss Western Fest. Chelsea Hoernemann and Madison Ohliger were named princesses and Joelle Carter junior princess. they made their first appearance as royalty Saturday night.

Saturday afternoon’s parade featured drill teams, high school marching bands, community bands and floats.