Buckle in for a Great Show at the 8th Annual Wisconsin Regional High School Rodeo

I remember watching the show “Hey Dude!” as a kid. It was a country life kind of show – riding around on horses, roping calf’s, tying all sorts of knots that would just leave me wrapped up if I attempted to try them. To me it was a different life, I was used to a city life, but the country activities I saw always interested me. What better way to satisfy these interests than to see the best of the best in our very own community compete in a rodeo, live!?

The 8th Annual Wisconsin Regional High School Rodeo will gather kids from the 6th – 12th grade to compete in the rodeo which will be held at the Dubuque County Fairgrounds from May 20th – May 22nd.  The Rodeo is local, it teaches kids great life skills, and it offers a good time for everyone which makes this a “can’t miss” event.

We got a chance to interview Karen Schilling, one of the founding members of the River Rodeo Committee which puts together the rodeo, to get to know a little more about the event…

Hello Karen, what is your association with the event?

Karen Schilling

I am on the River Rodeo Committee, we are a group of parents from Eastern Iowa that banded together to put on the rodeo here in Dubuque for the Wisconsin High School Rodeo Association. We are a regional rodeo.

How long has the committee been together?
This is our 8th year. About eight families and myself, are the founding members.

What makes you keep doing these events every year?
We do it for the kids. They really enjoy having places to rodeo. Dubuque has great facilities and the kids love coming to the fairgrounds. It really is all for the kids.

How did the Rodeo come about?
My business partner, Ginny Henneberry, has a son who was competing in the Wisconsin High School Rodeo and my daughter was about to start competing. We both thought it would be convenient to have a rodeo in Dubuque. From there we had the first meeting in her house, and we thought we could do it so we gave it a try and we are still going.

How many participants enter the rodeo?
There are usually around 150 contestants for the weekend. We do not have a limit to the number of contestants, though.

What are the requirements to enter the rodeo?
It’s open to anyone who’s a member of the Wisconsin High School Association that is between the 6th and 12th grade.

How does someone become a member of the Wisconsin High School Association?
They can go to the website: http://www.cowboycalendar.com/WIHSRA/ where they can download the form to apply for the association.

Click here to go to the Wisconsin High School Association website

What kind of activities goes on in the rodeo?
They do all of the regular rodeo events plus extras:
Barrel Racing, Pole Bending, Breakaway Roping, Goat Tying, Calf Roping, Team Wrestling, Boys and Girls Cutting, Saddle Broncs, Bareback Broncs and Bull riding.

How long do the events usually last?
Each performance lasts approximately two hours. But we cannot get all the contestants done in that time frame so there’s what we call “slack”. Slack is when we run the extra contestants on times that aren’t during the public rodeo showtime.

The Junior High rodeo is at 4:00pm Friday afternoon and a lot of the kids are rolling in during the afternoon on Friday and the High School rodeo is on Saturday and Sunday.

What do the participants get for winning?
Its two things… for the high schools it’s a “two-go” weekend so they take their scores from both go’s and average it. We have awards for the 1st – 4th place winners. They also accumulate points for the year-end total which is totaled in June at the state finals in Richland Center, WI. The top person in each event wins a saddle and a buckle. 2nd-5th places all receive buckles as well as other gifts. The top four are qualified to go to nationals which is in Gillette, Wyoming this year in July.

Do the kids bring in their own horses?
Yes, the kids bring their own horses and keep them in the barns up on the fairground. A lot of the kids bring self-contained horse-trailers which have living quarters in the front so they can stay right on the fairgrounds the whole weekend long.

Is there generally a pretty good crowd for the show?
Oh yes, I would say over the course of the weekend there are 1,500-2,000 spectators. It grows every year.

What has changed over the years with the event?
Over these last three years we added clowns to the event. In each of the three performances on Saturday and Sunday we have a boot race where we invite the kids, ten and under, to come into the arena. We take off one of their boots and they have to race to go get their boot and bring it back. It gets the little kids in the arena with the clown, the kids love it.

Every year there are improvements to the facility. We went through the years having a new fence put in and making the arena bigger and making improvements to the announcer’s facility. Every year we try to make it nicer for the participants. Also, every year the competition keeps getting tougher and we get a lot more participants.

Can people volunteer to help out with the event?
Yes. We are looking for help with the admission and the food stand. We are always looking for volunteers.

If you are interested in volunteering for the rodeo you can call Karen Schilling at (563) 542-4791.

Dubuque County Fairgrounds Horse Arena.
14569 Old Highway Road
Dubuque, IA 52002 US

Friday, May 20th @ 4:00p.m…….. Jr. High Rodeo
Sat. May 21st @ 1:00p.m………….. High School Performances
Sat. May 21st @ 7:00p.m………….. High School Performances
Sun. May 22nd @ Noon…………….. High School Performances

Tickets available at the gate:
$7.00 for Adult (Friday admission is just $5.00)
$3.00 Ages 7-10
6 & Under: Free
Weekend Pass: $15.00

$5.00 Advance Tickets available at:
Longhorn Saddlery
Theisen’s Store

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