Thursday, August 14, 2014
By Carol Walker
After five years under their belt, organizers for the Tucker Day Rodeo agree that they have established a system that seems to make things run pretty smoothly. Volunteers serving in the arena and food tent, the silent auction booth and many other booths on a sunny August afternoon all helped to make a great day for rodeo participants, their families and other spectators.
“Everything went very well on Sunday,” said LeeAnn Jensen, who, along with her husband Rich, initiated the event five years ago. “The rodeo participants had a great experience and Hill City was so generous in helping to make this possible again. The auction items were fabulous this year,” she went on to say.
Jensen said there were 32 participants in the rodeo, down from previous years. The effects of Storm Atlas from last fall stretched all the way to the Tucker Rodeo. Suncatcher Riding Academy, the place where many of the rodeo horses come from, was impacted, losing some of their horses in the storm. Because of that, they could not service as many riders.
Jerry and Linda Smedshammer, owners of Suncatcher Academy, have partnered with the Jensens since the beginning to offer this rodeo as an opportunity for special needs individuals to ride before an audience. Jim and Jody Olson, neighbors of the Smedshammers, have been impressed with the commitment of the owners and many volunteers at the academy as they work with individuals who may not otherwise have this opportunity with horses.
“The Smedshammers are very dedicated to this. They definitely believe this is a calling for them. They work very hard. I don’t think they sleep very much,” said Jody.
Between the volunteers associated with Suncatchers and the Hill City volunteers, there were probably about 50 people helping in and around the arena, according to Dan Gylten, arena organizer. Individuals helped in the set up and supported the riders as they moved through the events. Brent Morris and the Western Acoustics offered up a steady stream of country western tunes during the rodeo and rodeo clown Duane Reichert kept the crowd laughing with his jokes, antics and a performance with his buddy, Pony Baroni.
Many volunteers helped out at the food tent, organized by Moni Matush and Bob Stanfiel of the Alpine Inn. Jensen said about 600 people were fed free of charge. Booths that offered Strider bike rides, gold panning, balloon animals, petting bunnies and kittens and face jewels saw about 80 to 100 people taking part in the various activities.
Last year, heavy rain came abruptly at end of the rodeo, scattering everyone to any little bit of cover, but this year the sun shone brightly throughout the day, making for a picture perfect rodeo for everyone involved.