U.P. Championship Rodeo brings best of rodeo to IR
IRON RIVER—The U.P. Championship Rodeo has been a staple of summer fun locally for over five decades now and fans can expect another weekend of thrills and spills this year as the event moves into its 52nd year.
For decades, the rodeo brings fans from all over the region to Iron River for a weekend worth of western-themed entertainment. And with several events built around the actual rodeo performances, the two-day spectacle offers something for everyone as the U.P. Championship Rodeo continues to “Keep a Tradition.”
“We are extremely proud to have made it to our 52nd year,” said Rodeo Board President Bernadette Coates. “It’s an accomplishment that not a lot of rodeos have been able to meet, and we attribute this longevity to the great businesses and volunteer organizations that have been with us along the way.”
This year, rodeo performances will be held on Friday, July 19, and Saturday, July 20. Rodeo Week will begin on Wednesday with Family Fun Time at the Windsor Center from noon to 3 p.m. This free event will feature games, activities and live music by Lovin’ Country.
The first rodeo performance is slated for Friday at 7
p.m. with gates opening at 5. The second is Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m., gates open at noon. The finale will go off at 7 p.m. with gates open at 5.
The performances will go on rain or shine at the Iron County Fairgrounds. From U.S. 2, turn north on Seventh Avenue – the fairgrounds and the main entrance are at the north end of the street.
The rodeo performances form the centerpiece of the weekend but are no means the only festivities for folks to enjoy. There are the Wild West Parade, Market Days, Miss U.P. Rodeo Queen and Princess pageants and musical entertainment at River North Bar & Grill throughout the weekend.
Here is a further breakdown of the schedule:
Friday, July 19:
Queen and princess horsemanship at the Rodeo Arena get going at 8 a.m.
“The public is encouraged to attend this part of the competition and watch the young ladies in action as they perform patterns and show off their riding skills,” vice president Sari Jacobson said.
The contestants will also model the latest in Western fashion and answer questions about the sport of rodeo during that portion of their competition at 11 a.m. during Market Days, which runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in downtown Iron River. Genesee Street will be lined with vendors selling their wares. Last year vendor’s sold maple syrup, chaga, homemade jewelry, wood carvings, leather crafts, western attire and custom cut-out fire rings.
“With food and merchandise filling three blocks, you’re sure to find something to take home,” Coates said.
Also during this time, the West Iron District Library will host the Friends of the Library’s Book and Bake Sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The queen and princess pageants are a popular part of the festivities during Rodeo weekend. Last year’s queen, Caitlyn Havelka of Wallace and last year’s princess, Mattie Prestin of Cedar River, will preside over this year’s rodeo.
“The ladies have both been very busy since their crowning, making appearances at parades, horse shows, county fairs and maple syrup events,” Coates said.
Gates open two hours prior to the rodeo performance, allowing fans to check out the arena vendors, grab something to eat and visit with rodeo royalty. Also prior to the first rodeo performance, the Pink Ribbon Rebels Equestrian Drill Team and the Rodeo City Riders return to entertain fans as they eagerly await the rodeo competition.
The Friday night performance will once again support the Man Up Crusade, a nonprofit organization designed to bring awareness to the issue of domestic violence. Spectators are asked to wear purple to support the campaign. A charity ball toss will be held during the event, with proceeds going to the Tri-County Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual assault, a domestic violence shelter in Rhinelander, Wis.
The rodeo performance starts at 7. Events include saddle bronc and bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping, women’s barrel racing and bull riding.
The rodeo is sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the stock contractor is Three Hills Rodeo of Bernard, Iowa. Wade Grinager of Hanover, Minn. will be the arena announcer. The specialty act will be barrelman Dalton Morris, who will make the crowd laugh with humorous antics as well as trick roping and T-shirt launching skills.
Saturday, July 20:
A pancake breakfast at the Iron River Senior Center from 8-11:30 a.m. Next up is the ever-popular Wild West Parade, which kicks off at 10 a.m. in downtown Iron River. Registration will be held at 8 a.m. The parade starts at the corner of Fourth and Franklin and will be hosted by Global Response North.
At noon, rodeo gates open with pre-rodeo entertainment by the Pink Ribbon Rebels and Rodeo City Riders. The second rodeo performance of the weekend begins at 2 p.m. Proceeds from the charity ball toss at this performance will go to Great Lakes Recovery Center Foster Care Program which is a nonprofit regional resource for foster care and foster parents. As in years past, kids age 12 and under will be free with a paying adult
The final performance begins at 7 p.m. with gates opening at 5. Beginning at 6:30 p.m. the queen and princess pageant winners will be crowned in the Rodeo Arena. Saturday night’s performance is the Tough Enough to Wear Pink event, which is in support of the Iron County Cancer Unit. A charity ball toss will be included to help support the cause.
Ticket prices for the rodeo performances are $15 for adults, $5 for children 6-12. Kids 5 and under get in free.