When it comes to summertime in the Bellevue area, it doesn’t get much better than taking in the local rodeo, which is slated this year for June 20-22.
In fact, the Jackson County Pro Rodeo is ranked as one of the top five small rodeos in the United States by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and people from across the Midwest come to enjoy the unique three-day event, which is filled with cowboys, cowgirls, food, music and fun.
The pro rodeo runs for three evenings at the Bellevue Horsemen’s Club arena and grounds west of Bellevue just off Bellevue-Cascade Road. Gates open at 5 p.m. each evening with rodeo action beginning at 7:30 p.m.
This year, the rodeo is celebrating its 32nd year in conjunction with the 57th year of the Bellevue Horseman’s Club, whose members organize the annual event that draws thousands of fans.
Families bring their lawn chairs and blankets to line the hill overlooking the arena and listen to veteran announcer Roger Mooney.
Events begin with a kick-off party Wednesday night, June 19, at the Bellevue Horsemen’s Club grounds. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.
The event will include an old-fashioned Dog and Pony Show by a local cowgirl, and live music and jam session featuring Razor Ray Theisen and the gang from the Knights of Columbus Hall in Bellevue.
As well as mutton bustin’, pony rides and food vendors, the crowning of Little Miss Rodeo and the All-Around Junior Cowboy will take place. Boys and girls ages 5-8 years of age can enter.
Registration is at 6:30 p.m., followed by judging at 7 p.m.
On Thursday, chuckwagon races and clowns prove to be popular with the kids. Food stands, mechanical bulls, live music and beer are also part of the event.
Events like steer wrestling and team roping test practical ranching skills, drawing on the county’s rich cattle-breeding tradition. Bernard’s Three Hills Rodeo provides stock locally and for rodeos around the nation.
Meanwhile, the big-thrill events like bronc riding and especially bull-riding draw gasps from the crowd.
Other high-action events include bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping and tie-down roping.
According to Rodeo Chair Lisa (Scheckel) Schroeder, the rodeo started in Bellevue in 1983 and was amateur for a couple of years, but quickly became professional in 1987, sanctioned by the PRCA.
“This all started as an idea of a few club members. We had a local stock contractor who worked with us to help us get on our feet, as well as the Jackson County Tourism Association,” said Schroeder.
The initial chair people included Dick and Mary Bayless and Don and LouAnn Scheckel, and continued on with Roger and Julie Mueller.
“The Bellevue Horsemen’s Club has always been a volunteer organization and all of the great people involved over the years have really made this a successful family event,” Schroeder said.
Back by popular demand this year is the Kids Corral, which is a free event for youth held prior to the show and includes a pony ring, stick horse races and meet and greet with rodeo clowns, cowboys and cowgirls.
Nightly mutton bustin’ (sheep riding) and a pig scramble are also popular amongst the youngsters at the rodeo.
Fireworks and live music will be featured all three nights after rodeo action.