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Burwell Saddles Up for Nebraska's Big Rodeo July 24-27

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Pam Helgoth, manager of the Burwell Rodeo Ticket Office, with husband, Jess Helgoth, President of the Rodeo Board, stand in front of the Memorial Bricks available for purchase.

By Bev Donner-Williams
   It’s time to get your tickets for the 103rd Nebraska’s Big Rodeo held at the Garfield County Frontier Fairgrounds, just southeast of Burwell. The days are numbered before the thundering of hooves hit the arena, the roar of the crowd is heard, and the ability to witness some of the most physically demanding rodeo events that will begin on Wed., July 24 and run through Sat., July 27.
   “The box seats on the west side of the arena have all been sold out for Friday and Saturday,” ticket sales manager, Pam Helgoth states, “And the reserved seats on the west grand stand are selling fast. General admission will pick up as we get closer to the days of the rodeo. We’re going to have a great crowd!”
   Jess Helgoth, involved with the rodeo for 17 years, and president of the board for the last five years explained, “I am excited for this year’s rodeo!  Nebraska Husker Volleyball Head Coach John Cook is our Grand Marshal.  We will have ‘Nebraska’s Big Rodeo with Nebraska’s Big Coach’!” He went on to say, “It will also give us the opportunity to show off our new north Frontier Fair Grandstand that we have worked so hard to finish before this rodeo. By next year’s rodeo, the roof will be completed, and the building underneath should be finished.”
   Helgoth continued, “For a medium-sized rodeo, we have the best entry numbers even though we are competing with the Cheyenne ‘Granddaddy of Rodeos’ and the rodeo in Deadwood the same weekend. KNLV, Ord's radio station, will be giving away 10 vouchers for two people for the Wednesday and Thursday performances.” 
   Another essential addition to this year’s rodeo is the handicap accessible metal stand on the east side of the arena.  There is also handicap parking and restrooms available.  Box seats purchased yearly by businesses and fans sit in front against the arena fence. The Bull Pen Beer Garden is located behind these stands to host an “adult only” dance nightly after every rodeo performance.
   An FCCLA teen dance will be held throughout the entire rodeo from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. at the dance pavilion with a five dollar admission fee. 
   Parking at the rodeo has always been a problem.  The addition of the trolleys several years ago by the rodeo and Burwell Chamber of Commerce has been a great solution to this issue. They pick-up fans every 10-15 minutes at designated locations around Burwell and take you directly to the rodeo grounds.  This way you can return to your car without fighting any traffic. The trolley runs Wednesday from 5-11 p.m.; Thursday 5 p.m.-1:30 a.m.; Friday 4 p.m.- 1:30 a.m.; and Saturday 2 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Patrons can still park in the northeast corner of the fairgrounds; volunteers are available to guide you to a parking spot. 
   On Wed., July 24, 2024, the first day of the fun-packed Nebraska’s Big Rodeo begins! Highlights of the rodeo and fair week include: Garfield County Sheep and Goat show, GLW District Beef, Sheep, and Goat Show, and Garfield County Swine and Beef Show, starting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday thru Friday; and Miss Burwell Rodeo and Little Miss Rodeo Coronation will be during the Wednesday night performance. 
   The gates will open each night at 6:30 p.m. with the show beginning at 7:30 p.m.  Every show will continue to have the award winning livestock provided by Butler and Sons to provide the seven pro rodeo approved events that will keep you glued to your seat with cheers for each favorite record-breaker.            
   For the second year, they are proudly welcoming the Indian Relay Races to each day of the performances. They have been dubbed “America’s original extreme sport.” One rider will complete three circles around the track with only the reins and a whip to handle the horse.  After each lap, the rider changes mounts by leaping from his horse onto a fresh horse, held by his team.  The rider then continues to tear down the track, exchanging horses after every lap.  The exchange is very difficult and dangerous.  Remember, these are usually different tribes racing against each other, and each team is striving to win!  It’s a big scramble at the site of the remount area, injuries to humans and horses are sometimes inevitable. 
   Open daily for your enjoyment will be the exhibit hall, the carnival at 6 p.m. with commercial, ag exhibits, plus many venders to browse through in the Midway.  Loup Trail DAR Quilt Show will display their exquisite, colorful quilts at the Burwell High School Commons Room and the Garfield County Historical Museum will be open to experience the Western Heritage of Burwell and the Sandhills.
   Saturday is the biggest day for Burwell and the rodeo.  In downtown Burwell, the Garfield County Fair and Rodeo parade will begin at 10 a.m.  Coach John Cook will be the Parade Marshal with the theme “Dream like a Champion.” The community, organizations and businesses have been working hard on their floats for the last couple of weeks to make this parade the champion of parades!  The sidewalks will be crowded with fans, as children run out to catch candy or that special souvenir. It is also a perfect time to do some shopping in the boutiques, get a special latte from Normal Roasting Company and visit the other stores around the square.  

   To read the complete story, pickup the July 17 edition of The Ord Quiz!

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