DAYTON - Over its 75 years, the Dayton Rodeo has grown from humble roots into a four-day annual event that includes a Labor Day parade, a carnival and vendors and a flea market.
In addition to the main rodeo competitions, numerous entertainers will be on hand to help celebrate the anniversary beginning this Friday.
"We try to juice it up. The fireworks and stuff will be a little different," said Dave Bills, chairman of the Dayton Rodeo Celebration committee.
-Messenger file photo
A participant in the 2011 Dayton Rodeo didn’t let rain or a bit of mud stop him from participating in the calf-roping event. This year’s Dayton Rodeo will begin Friday and run through Labor Day. In addition to the rodeo events, Dayton also offers a carnival, flea market, bingo and concessions thoughout the weekend and a parade on Labor Day.
One of the highlights will be John Payne, the "One Armed Bandit."
"He has been entertainer of the year in the (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) several times," said Bills. "It's a spectacular act, probably the best in the world I guess."
Payne lost an arm to severe electrical burns when working for his dad back in 1973. His shows usually involve driving buffalo or mustangs on top of his giant trailer.
Schedule of events
4 p.m. - Flea market, bingo and concessions open for the weekend
5 p.m. - Carnival opens
7 p.m. - Rodeo show time, Date Night
7 p.m. - Rodeo show time, Kids Night
7 p.m. - Rodeo show time, Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night
10 a.m. - Labor Day parade
1:30 p.m. - Rodeo show time
$17 adults, $7 children per night. Adult four-day discount package $58. Date Night Friday, two adults get in for $24. Kids Night Saturday, children are admitted free with a paid adult admission.
"He's really good; he's a crowd pleaser," said Kathy Springer. She is a member of the Rodeo committee, vice president of the Dayton Wranglers Saddle Club and runs the cook shack on the rodeo grounds.
She also takes care of the "Tough Enough to Wear Pink" night, which has become a Dayton Rodeo tradition and falls on Sept. 2.
"We do that one night to raise money for breast cancer," Springer said.
T-shirts will be available for sale, with the proceeds going to the Trinity Regional Cancer Center in Fort Dodge. Many of the cowboys will also wear pink, she said.
Though she enjoys all the rodeo events, Springer especially likes the rodeo clown.
"Our clown is really good, Justin Rumford. He'll come with some specialty acts," said Bills. "It's his first time at Dayton. He'll be the one entertaining the crowd throughout the rodeo."
Other entertainers include Miss Rodeo Iowa Rachel Burton, bullfighter Cory Wall and the local Serpentine Riders.
The Serpentine Riders is made up of members of the Dayton Wranglers Saddle Club. Girls try out for the team every June, said director and coach Loree Stewart. The riders will perform a precision riding routine set to music every night before the rodeo.
Stewart said that after three months of practicing, the riders and their horses both learn the routine quite well.
"The horses know when to turn," she said. "Some of the challenge is that the horses will begin to anticipate the turns."
Bills said he was hoping to see a huge crowd.
"We'll have carnival on top of the hill and vendors; it's a huge family event," he said.
The rodeo consists of 10 events - roughstock events including bareback riding and bull riding, and timed events including steer wrestling and barrel racing. Three of those 10 are novice events. In mutton busting, 5- to 7-year-old kids will try to stay on a bucking sheep. The Junior steers competition is for those not old enough yet for full-sized bull riding. Definitely not for kids is the wild horse racing, which will take place at the start of every night.
Bills said it takes a lot to keep the rodeo running - "the Dayton Wranglers, lots of volunteers from the community, the City of Dayton helps."
Photo of Dave Bills, courtesy of Streit Photo