Iron River, Michigan – Being an avid horse person myself, the U.P. Rodeo was an assignment I had been looking forward to for quiet some time. My friend and I set off from Marquette, Saturday morning at about 11:30 AM to make the 2:00 PM performance.
My friend, Eric, had never attended a rodeo in all of his twenty-three years of living, so I absolutely had to change that. We made the two hour drive fishing into a giant bag of Swedish Fish along the way before pulling into the fairgrounds parking lot.
The size of the grounds surprised me. I expected the area to be larger, but the size didn’t deter anyone from coming out to see the show! The mounted ring-master had people cheering in moments. Viewers from as fair as California and Germany came to see the rodeo Saturday afternoon.
Starting with the National Anthem, the rodeo hype just got higher and higher until the first bucking horse broke out of the gate. The stands were completely full as the show went on. Cowboys rode broncs and bulls and cowgirls turned barrels. The smell of popcorn and hot dogs rolled through the air mixing with the smell of manure.
Eric and I leaned against the gates of the arena as I snapped photo after photo of bulls with their feet in the air and horses chasing down calves. Rotating around the ring for different shots, the atmosphere in the tiny arena was strong on all sides. Cheering and screaming came from the bleachers as the gate keepers let out each rider.
I gazed at beautiful cow horses and meet a few nice cowboys too! My personal experiences with rodeo events ends at barrel racing so seeing the beating the pro circuit riders take always blows me away.
I watched saddle bronc riders tape up their arms and even have horses come down on their heads. Bareback bronc rider, Alex Whitworth of Kentucky was kicked in the head twice during the 7 PM rodeo performance. Having spoke to Alex last night, thankfully he seems to be doing just fine.
The rodeo experience is always a thrill of sorts. The things these men and women put themselves through as well as the relationship they have with their animals is amazing!
Special congratulations to Clara Churchill and her mare. Clara was named Miss U.P. Rodeo Queen during the second performance of the night.
If you could not make it out to the U.P. Championship Rodeo in Iron River, MI, check out the photo gallery below!