Rodeo opens under stormy skies
Manawa hosts Mid-Western Rodeo
By Holly Neumann
Even with rain and a muddy field, Mid-Western Rodeo fans still filled the stands June 30 in Manawa to take in the greatest show on dirt.
“This is my first time to the rodeo,” Jon Waite said. “I have seen it on TV, so I thought I better take in a live show to really see what it is all about.”
“Not going to lie,” Sasha Brown added. “I came for the bull riding. It’s a little scary, but that is my favorite part.”
Among those in attendance at the first of four scheduled performances was rodeo queen hopeful Stefanie Voight of Brillion.
“I have been coming here since I was 6 years old,” she said. “I just love everything about it. It’s all so exciting.”
If chosen as queen, Voight would tell others about the annual event that draws thousands of competitors and fans to Manawa.
“I don’t think people in general know enough about the rodeo,” she said. “I look forward to the opportunity to educate them.”
Voight is studying nursing at Wisconsin Lutheran College, but hopes to one day take part in barrel racing.
“You just go in, get the job done and you’re out,” she said.
Competitors Hunter Washburn and Jake Springer are also in town.
Springer, of Stephenville, Texas, is a professional bareback bronc rider who travels nine to 10 months a year to compete in rodeos.
“I grew up around the rodeo and I have stuck with it,” he said. “It takes a lot of practice, but I love it.”
He likes the physical nature of the event.
“There is a bit of a fight in it, but it’s all part of the game,” he said.
Washburn, of Shawnee, Okla., came to participate in steer wrestling.
“I have been competing in junior rodeo since I was 5 or 6,” he said. “I have been steer wrestling for the past 6 years now.”
Washburn’s dad always had horses and that when he took an interest, his father led him on his way.
“I have worked really hard to get here,” Washburn said. “I was a reserve champion, then I started going to amateur rodeos and now the professional ones. I like the challenge.”
An equine dentist by trade, he hopes to eventually compete full-time.
“You have to follow your heart,” he said. “You have to dream big.”
Additional performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 1; and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 2.