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Wessington Springs rodeo starts today

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By JUSTIN HARNED

The Daily Republic

WESSINGTON SPRINGS — The community of Wessington Springs will gladly welcome the out-of-town cowboys for the 12th annual Wessington Springs Foothills SDRA Rodeo.

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The rodeo has increased entrees by more than 30 participants this year as popularity of the event has grown well outside the borders of South Dakota. With 260 entrees this year, the desire to compete in this event has been steadily increasing ever since its inception 12 years ago.

The action is set to begin at noon today and will continue Sunday at 2 p.m., with 12 rodeo events on the slate. The 11th annual rodeo queen was announced Friday.

The rodeo benefits the community by bringing in people and revenue. Competitors are traveling from North Carolina, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Montana and Wyoming, among others, to participate in the event.

“When we started this, there was hardly anyone in South Dakota who knew where Wessington Springs was,” President of the Wessington Springs Rodeo club Larry Powell said. “The amount of people it brings to town and everyone comes in and spends money; it’s just a huge benefit for the community.”

Children will participate in mutton busting. It’s similar to bull riding or bronco riding, where children ride or race sheep. It’s a fun spectacle for the audience and the kids says Powell.

Powell said winning the title of rodeo queen is not easy says Powell. Being a rodeo queen requires skills such as the western style of horse riding, public speaking, appearance and personality. After winning her new title, the rodeo queen must represent her rodeo or association with public events, parades, radio interviews and charity events.

Samantha Powell, daughter of Larry Powell, will compete in the barrel-racing event. Samantha has served on the committee and also did some secretarial work for the event. She has been involved with rodeo from a young age and admits she isn’t immune to nerves.

“I’m not going to say I’m not a little nervous about it,” she said. “It’s all about going out there and having fun.”

Although the Powell family has been in the business longer than most, it’s always about just having fun and enjoying the competition, that’s what the event is all about.

“Rodeo is a family oriented sport,” Samantha said. “It’s not just one kid that comes to the rodeo, it’s the whole family. You always benefit from getting to know all the other people and getting their perspective and being able to take advice from those who have been doing it longer.”

The Wessington Springs Foothills Rodeo Committee will host a free rodeo dance today following the rodeo at the American Legion for South Dakota’s 125th anniversary. The dance will be free and is open to all ages.

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