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Rodeo Spotlight Geneva Rodeo
story by Lindsay King
With one year of rodeo under their belt, the Fillmore County Fair will feature a clown known across the nation from his appearance on CBS’ Big Brother in 2017. Jason Dent, known as Whistle-Nut, will perform at the second annual rodeo in Geneva, Nebraska, held in conjunction with the Fillmore County Fair. “Jason will bring his bull Ole who he trained to let him ride. Our clown, Dalton Morris, last year went over well so we have no doubts that Jason will also,” said Tyler Williams, fair board member and head of the rodeo committee. For the past ten years, the fair has featured bull riding, but made the jump to put on a rodeo in 2017. “Last year it was a two-day event that kicked off our grand stand entertainment. We followed it with a demolition derby.” The rodeo was held on a Wednesday and Thursday its first year, but is being moved to Friday and Saturday concluding the week-long fair.
With 4-H and FFA shows all week long, the board wanted a way to keep people on the grounds after all the showing was over. “This year we will be bringing in red dirt bands the day before the rodeo starts. Since we moved the rodeo to a weekend event, we are hoping this will bring more spectators and competitors.” The event rounds out the Fourth of July run of rodeos. Between the two days, more than 3,000 spectators filled the stands with both performances and one round of slack filled to the brim. “The rodeo was well attended in everything but the rough stock events. We certainly were not the highest paying rodeo, but I know we were close. We are adding $1,000 to the rough stock payout in hopes of bringing in more competitors this year.”
Without the help of the community, the brand-new rodeo would not have been the success it was in its first year. “We were fortunate that the fair board’s work paid off and the community came through with the sponsorships to bring this new event to the fair.” Tyler is an avid rodeo competitor himself, growing up in a rodeo family. “I seem to take my background in rodeo for granted because I was surprised how many people in the community said they had never been to a rodeo. They loved it and are excited that we are bringing it back this year.” The event will bring in competitors from the IRA, URA and M-SRA. Still a team roper today, Tyler is familiar with the M-SRA. “I know a lot of people in the organization and am familiar with those in leadership positions. They have been really easy to work with and have made it easy on our end as well, making for a great rodeo for both spectators and competitors.”
With no rodeo grounds at the fair, it was difficult to find a contractor with a portable arena. Kevin Wookey of the Grand River Rodeo Company from Grand River, Iowa, came through as last year’s stock contractor and will be back in 2018. “Since last year was our first year I don’t think as many people knew about the event. We are trying to grow both our fan and competitor base for this year, just to get on more people’s radar.” In the years to come, the board is hoping to add bigger attractions to the small-town rodeo. “We would love to be able to bring in acts like the One-Armed Bandit or the Budweiser Clydesdales since we are such a small town it would be neat to have those big names at our event.”
Many livestock judges have cited the Fillmore County Fair as having some of the toughest competition in the state. “If someone wants to see a lot of superior quality livestock with top-notch entertainment at night, Fillmore County is the place to be in July.” Mark your calendars for the easy drive on I80 to Geneva July 13-14, 2018.