Washington family surprised with free rodeo tickets, hotel stayThe Simonson family planned to travel through Mitchell toward Wyoming on Thursday, but the lights of a Davison County Sheriff’s vehicle changed that.
By: Austin Kaus, The Daily Republic
The Simonson family planned to travel through Mitchell toward Wyoming on Thursday, but the lights of a Davison County Sheriff’s vehicle changed that.
Sheriff Dave Miles pulled the family’s camper over Thursday afternoon and informed them they were the recipients of the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo Pullover prizes.
Because of their selection, the family — Steve, Fawnda, Shelby, 17, Luke, 13, and their dog, Benji — received a Corn Palace gift basket, tickets to the rodeo Thursday night, dinner at The Depot, a one-night stay at the Super 8 and a key to the city.
After being greeted by rodeo and city officials, Steve Simonson was obviously surprised.
“I’m almost speechless,” he said. “Nothing like this has ever happened to us before.”
The Simonsons are traveling from Indiana to Gillette, Wyo., where they plan to meet with Fawnda’s father before returning home to Cashmere, Wash. But their schedule is flexible, which allowed for their acceptance of the prizes.
The prizes were just another sign of the Midwestern hospitality the family has come to enjoy, Fawnda said.
“Everywhere we go, it’s just so ‘home-towny,’ ” she said. “We’ve felt really relaxed here.”
Finding a family who could fit the rodeo into their schedule proved to be a difficult task.
It took a few hours and eight tries to find a family that would accept the prizes. Sheriff Miles, Dave Sietsema of the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo committee and two reporters sat at the edge of the westbound Interstate 90 Exit 332, on the hunt for traveling families from other states. Other officials waited at Campbell Supply, where the family was taken to be awarded the prizes.
Families from New York, Illinois, Minnesota, California, Nebraska and Manitoba, Canada, all had to refuse the prizes because of reservations or other engagements.
The search began shortly before 11 a.m. By 12:45 p.m., Miles joked that the parameters of the search might shift.
“We’re just about ready to take somebody from Alexandria,” he said.
The search was about as long as the previous record in 2009, when it took 12 tries and more than two hours to find a family.
The Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo performances began Thursday and continue at 8 p.m. today, Saturday and Sunday at Horseman’s Sports Arena on the northern edge of Mitchell.