On Saturday, there was one more performance, one more chance to ride for the money, and one last day to put the wraps on the Belle Fourche 2019 Black Hills Roundup Rodeo.
Despite the recent barrage of thunderstorms that have contributed to a very muddy and messy Roundup Rodeo arena, the show went on much to the enjoyment and amusement of scores of area rodeo fans.
Daylon Swearingen, a up-and-coming young bull rider from Rochelle, Ga., closed out the 100th edition of the rodeo in exciting fashion that only bull riding can provide with a 90-point ride aboard Powder River Rodeos Cinnamon Kat in the last event of the night.
“I came here knowing that with Powder River Rodeos, you are going to get on a good one, and I love getting on good bulls, so I was blessed to come to this rodeo and have fun in the mud,” said Swearingen, who added another sizable paycheck to what has been a very profitable Cowboy Christmas in the Dakotas, having won in Livingston, Mont., earlier.
“The bull came out and spun left and I enjoy when they go left, so I was excited. I was just a little behind at first, but I just kept going. It’s been a great trip up here. This is my first time really rodeoing hard, and I’m just trying to get to as many good rodeos, and I can try to get paid.”
With big payouts on the line on Saturday, bronc riders faced a formidable task to earn a spot at the pay window as Fourth of July competitors had posted lofty numbers. North Dakota bareback rider Nate McFadden’ s 87-point ride on Thursday, and Hereford's JJ Elshere had turned in a 90-point effort in saddle bronc.
In bareback, only three competitors showed up to challenge McFadden’s score. None did though as Cole Reiner of Kaycee, Wyo., did slip into the money with an 82.5-point ride, good enough for a fifth-place paycheck.
Elshere’s 90-point saddle bronc ride withstood all challengers in the final performance as well, though another South Dakota bronc rider, Jeremy Meeks of Scenic, did earn a fifth-place payout with an 84.5-point ride.
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“That was a nice horse and it felt really good for once since that was the best horse I’ve drawn all week. Some horses don’t like these conditions but mine didn’t seem to mind it. It’s a Canadian horse, though, and those horses are probably used to bucking in snow drifts and everything else,” Meeks said with a grin. “Hopefully I will pull some money out of it. It’s been a slow and wet week everywhere. I pulled a check in Mobridge (Sitting Bull Stampede), and I won an amateur rodeo in Interior last night and here today.”
The muddy arena continued to handicap many of the timed-event competitors though a couple of winning performances did come in the morning slack.
Jon Laine Herl (Goodland, Kansas) won the big man’s event bulldogging his steer in a very quick 3.9-seconds to win the steer wrestling, and the duo of Dustin Egusquiza (Marinna, FLa., and Jake Long (Coffeeville, Kansas) won the team roping event with a 4.3 second roping effort.
A couple of South Dakota barrel racers joined Jessica Routier (Buffalo), a 2018 NFR qualifier who had recorded a a 17.19-second spin through the cloverleaf on Wednesday, at the top of the leaderboard. Christy Willert (Kadoka) and Kristi Steffes (Vale) posted 17.75-second and 17.79 runs respectively. And Joe Schmidt (Belfield, N.D.) earned second-place money with a 10.6-second tie-down roping run.
Despite the muddy conditions, Roundup chute boss Keith Anderson pointed out that both the rodeo competitors and the livestock adapted well to the less than ideal conditions.
“In the rough stock end, everybody showed up, and the horses held up good. Powder River (Rodeo) has a great set of horses that are built for the mud and can handle the conditions,” Anderson said. “Timed event wise, there were a few that the mud spooked off, and with the mud it was a little slow out there, but in the end, somebody was going to get paid.”
Even the spectators were up to the challenge. Including those seated in front rows for whom a mud shower tossed up in the wake of a speeding horse or bull were a common occurrence eliciting a rodeo style version of the wave with umbrellas and protective gear billowing up on each occasion.
“The people in the front few rows leave with part of the rodeo on them for sure, though I haven’t seen one person get up and leave because of it,” Anderson quipped.