Freeborn County Fair: Bucking the past

Published 9:33 am Monday, August 4, 2008

The Freeborn County Stampede thundered into the Freeborn County Fair Saturday with 40 cowboys competing in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event.

It was the first-ever PRCA event at the fair and scores of fans turned out on a warm afternoon to take it all in.

“Albert Lea was known as a town for rodeos in the past, and it’s coming back,” said event organizer Troy Thompson. “We look to expand seating for the next event to accommodate all that came.”

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The fans watched as cowboys from across the country battled steers, bulls and broncs for a little money and a better standing in the PRCA circuit. Cowgirls also competed in barrel racing after the main event.

Joe Simon was the stock contractor for the rodeo, which included steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, team roping, tie-down roping and bull riding. Simon has produced rodeos for decades and is a well-respected stock contractor who operates out of Webster.

Jason Wylie of Harris won the bareback riding event with a score of 77 points and Andy Carter finished second with 76 points. In the saddle bronc event Sean Prater of Fulton, Mo. took home first place with a score of 84 and Kyle Whitaker, the 2007 Dodge Great Lakes Circuit Finals Rodeo all-around champion, finished second with 74 points. Jay Crain, of Morrisville, Mo., and Jimmie Allen, of Spokane, Mo., won the team roping event with a time of 5.6 seconds while Jimmy Fletcher Jr. and Jake Fletcher tied for second with Ben Ray and Jason Stroup with a time of 6.6 seconds. Cam Weddle of Milaca grabbed first place in the bull riding competition with a score of 79 and Josh Carlson of Gillett, Wis. finished second with 77 points. Troy Locken of Lyndon Station, Wis. won steer wrestling with a time of 3.7 seconds. Wade Steffen of Richmond, Ill. was second with a time of 4.1 seconds. Quinlan Thomas of Chetek, Wis. won tie down roping with a time of 9.8 seconds. Roy Alexander of Bancroft, Wis. finished second with at 11 seconds.

The prize money totaled more than $12,000 with the Freeborn County Stampede contributing $7,000 to the event.

The cowboys poured in from across the country to take a gamble at winning prize money. Jimmy Fletcher Jr. and Jake Fletcher came from Chino Valley, Ariz. for the rodeo and others, like Matt Koch, came from just down the road.

Koch, 26, lives in Clarks Grove and competed in steer wrestling. He finished third with a time of 4.6 seconds. He has been competing in rodeos for the last three years and travels to a rodeo every weekend.

Koch said it was nice not having to travel so far Saturday and a good break from his normally nomadic lifestyle. Before the Freeborn County Stampede Koch was in Cheyenne, Wyo. The traveling is just part of the cowboy lifestyle if one wants to make it to the National Finals Rodeo.

Koch entered the Freeborn County Stampede in fourth place in the Dodge Great Lakes Pro Rodeo circuit with his earnings totaling $6,123. The top 12 earners move on to the Dodge Great Lakes Circuit Finals.

It’s certainly hit or miss at each rodeo, but Koch hit for nearly $400 Saturday with his third place finish.

Each cowboy must pay a fee in order to participate in an event and those fees ranged Saturday from $40 to $75. The higher the fee, the bigger the take is. For instance, in team roping the entry fee was $75, but the winner received $855. In bareback riding the entry fee was $40 and the winner took home $752.40.

Of course every cowboy isn’t as fortunate to be in the money.

Travis Trampler, of Klemme, Iowa, had just driven home from Pawnee City, Neb., the night before where he competed in a rodeo. It was a two-day rodeo, but decided to drive home and compete in the Freeborn County Stampede the next day. He said he arrived in Klemme at 3 a.m. Saturday. He’s been competing in rodeos for 12 years and has grown accustomed to the arduous lifestyle.

“It gets a little crazy with the price of fuel,” Trampler said.

He enjoys competing in rodeos because he likes to travel and likes the camaraderie that is formed through competition.

Trampler normally travels with a group of cowboys in order to cut costs.

Trampler competed in bull riding, but was bucked and went home empty handed. Despite his lack of success he was impressed with the rodeo.

“It was good,” Trampler said. “Joe runs a real professional rodeo.”
Click to see a photo gallery of scenes from theStampede.

Click to see a photo gallery of bull riding.

Click to see a photo gallery of barrel racing.
Both Trampler and Koch have jobs that are very flexible with their schedules so they can take off for a rodeo at the drop of a hat.

Koch works at a feedlot and Trampler works for a fertilizer company and made sure the job would cooperate with their rodeo schedule.

There won’t be much down time for Koch as he’s off to Sikeston, Mo., to compete in the Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo on Tuesday.


Bareback Riding

First: Jason Wylie — 77

Second: Andy Carter — 76

Saddle Bronc Riding

First: Sean Prater — 84

Second: Kyle Whitaker — 74

Third: Matt Schlegel — 73

Bull Riding

First: Cam Weddle — 79

Second: Josh Carlson — 77

Third: Steve Antczak — 74

Tie Down Roping

First: Quinlan Thomas — 9.8 seconds

Second: Roy Alexander — 11 seconds

Third: Joe Busch — 12.5 seconds

Fourth: Jeremy Olson — 13 seconds

Steer Wrestling

First: Troy Locken — 3.7 seconds

Second: Wade Steffen — 4.1 seconds

Third: Matt Koch — 4.6 seconds

Fourth: Jordan Wagner — 5.3 seconds

Team Roping

First: Jay Crain and Jimmie Allen — 5.6 seconds

Second: Jimmy Fletcher Jr. and Jake Fletcher — 6.6 seconds

Third: Ben Ray and Jason Stroup — 6.6 seconds

Fourth: Chris Camerer and J.L. Johnson — 6.7 seconds

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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