74-year-old drill team member still going strong
Ila Rumbolz started performing at the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo 31 years ago atop her horse named Babe.
The 74-year-old Ethan native is back for the 44th annual event riding alongside her granddaughter Elisha Tiede. Rumbolz is riding the granddaughter of Babe, Lilly, this weekend.
"I'm a horse nut," Rumbolz said about why she continues to perform. "My dad put me on a horse when I was 6 months old."
Rumbolz, now living in Mitchell, said she was not sure if she was going to ride in the rodeo this year with the drill team, but said she couldn't pass up the opportunity to continue to perform with family.
"It's a special thing," Rumbolz said about getting to ride alongside her granddaughter.
The drill team has been around almost as long as the rodeo, according to Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo Committee Chairman Jim Miskimins, who added Rumbolz has been a part of the event as long as he can remember. The drill team is on display nightly, usually prior to the start of the rodeo, and is comprised of a group of women that perform intricate maneuvers on horseback as a team.
Rumbolz said the drill team has performed at other events, including at Letcher, Yankton and Scotland. She added the biggest change she has seen in her 31 years is the drill team started with 16 riders, with four groups of four, when she began. The team is down to 10 riders this year.
"These last couple of years I haven't been able to ride as much as I'd like," Rumbolz said.
Rumbolz said she will continue to take part in the rodeos as long as her body will let her.