Nebraska’s Big Rodeo Featured in Statewide Magazine

Nebraska Life photo

  Nebraska’s Big Rodeo in Burwell is featured in the July/August 2021 issue of Nebraska Life Magazine.

   In the nine-page feature, “Nebraska’s Big Rodeo: Eight-second rides add up to 100 exciting years in Burwell,” Nebraska Life Editor Alan Bartels explores the grandstand, chutes and infield to put a rope around the event celebrating 100 years in 2021. The story, with photographs also by Bartels, describes the sights, sounds and smells of the event.

   “The aromas of popcorn, barbecue and funnel cakes mix with that of Sandhills hay and adrenaline as loudspeakers announce that the grand entry parade is about to begin,” Bartels writes in the story. “Then trotting in are the Burwell High School Rodeo Team and rodeo queens from other counties. A sputtering Model T Ford and a stagecoach roll by before things get serious – chatter halts and seed corn caps and cowboy hats come off when Miss Burwell Rodeo rides in with the U.S. flag. A Burwell high schooler belts out the national anthem.”

   The history of the early days of the rodeo is recounted in the feature. “Within sight of the grandstand, farmer George Evans and his oxen were surrounded by 30 fierce braves wearing war paint and eagle headdresses,” Bartels writes in the story. “The crowd reacted with horror seeing one of the savages approach with a dull blade, kneel down and grab a fistful of the man’s hair. The attack was staged, of course, part of the show. With Evans playing a starring role, he was seemingly scalped each day. The farmer from nearby Loup County was no worse for wear since he was wearing a wig.”

   “Events like Nebraska’s Big Rodeo don’t happen without a lot of work,” Bartels said. “About 400 area volunteers cater to those sellout crowds of 10,000 rodeo fans. Every Nebraska community should be known for something, and this community event puts Burwell and Nebraska on the entertainment map nationally. The Burwell Rodeo is an event that the community and our state can be proud of.” 

   The July/August 2021 issue of Nebraska Life also features stories about Norfolk model rocket inventor, Orville Carlisle, summertime detasselers, Cherry County wildlife refuges, poet John G. Neihardt, and Scotts Bluff County’s Old West Balloon Fest. Readers also will find Nebraska trivia, poetry, recipes and a statewide calendar of events. 

   Nebraska Life Magazine publishes six issues each year about the culture, history, events, nature and people of Nebraska. The magazine was founded in 1997 and is family-owned by Christopher and Angela Amundson.

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