Take an Inside Look into the Lives of Some Folks in the Hamel Rodeo

John A. Olson

Every July, something incredible takes place that gathers folks from all over the Midwest—the Hamel Rodeo & Bull Ridin’ Bonanza.

The hustle and bustle of attendees finding their seats radiates an excited energy as they wait for the action to begin. Bull riders, tie-down ropers, barrel racers and even rodeo clowns add to the thrills and chills over the rodeo’s weekend dates.

The Hamel Rodeo celebrates 38 years of bringing joy, while giving back to local entities, with event proceeds earmarked for the Hamel Lions Club, the Hamel Volunteer Fire Department, Heinzen-Ditter VFW Post and John Pohlker Legion Post.

Since the first rodeo in 1981, it has contributed over $1.8 million back to the community. The rodeo costs over $300,000 to produce. A large portion of that money is spent in the local community. The amazing atmosphere combined with the rodeo’s charitable mission could be what draws professional cowboys, cowgirls and the like to come from all over the U.S. and Canada to compete in this sensational show.   

Let’s meet a few of them.

Rodeo Duo
Jody and Kassie Green met in 2011 through a mutual friend and instantly hit it off. Both had been participating in rodeos for years—but many, many miles apart. Jody grew up in Oklahoma, where he began roping as a thr3ee-year-old. A professional tie-down roper since 2000, Jody has won first place in many rodeos, including the Hamel Rodeo in 2013 and just last July in 2017. “The winning time was 8.7 seconds for calf roping on the last performance Sunday evening,” he says. Both Jody and Kassie love the competition and atmosphere of rodeos.

Kassie grew up in Shakopee, where the couple now lives, and is a professional barrel racer. She has been riding horses since she was 12 years old, and her favorite part about barrel racing is being with her horses. “I showed horses growing up, but when I went to North Dakota State [University] and got into college rodeo is when I really got into barrel racing,” she says. The couple now travels around the U.S. to compete in rodeos, as well as raises a small herd of horses back in Shakopee.

Tie-down Roper
“Holy smokes, the crowds are fun. That hill holds a lot of people, and I feed off of that,” says rodeo clown John Harrison about the Hamel Rodeo. Harrison lives with his family in Oklahoma, where ample space, trees and water allow him to ride horses and practice rodeo events. Originally joining the rodeo as a specialty trick act, Harrison decided to use his sense of humor and rodeo background to become a rodeo clown in 2003. Since then, he travels to rodeos all over the U.S. His family joins him for events in the summer, and when his kids go to school in the fall, they travel to his shows on the weekends.

Harrison has a basic routine he always performs before going into the arena. First, he takes what he calls a “clown nap” and then goes to the production meetings. After the meetings, he prepares his props for the show, showers, gets dressed and, most importantly, listens to classic rock music. “It’s my music that I listen to beforehand. It gives me energy,” explains Harrison. With a classic  song playing in his head, Harrison is ready to rock the fans.

Bull Rider
At 8-years-old, Brett Stall rode his first bull at a bull riding school in southern Minnesota and knew that he wanted to eventually be in the rodeo. “It was just something that I wanted to do ever since I was a little kid. Other kids wanted to be astronauts and firefighters, but I wanted to be a bull rider,” Stall says. Now a 28-year-old Detroit Lake’s resident, Stall rides bulls professionally at rodeos across the country. He even qualified for the famous Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas in 2012 and 2015.

“Qualifying for the NFR was a dream come true. It was one of those deals where you watch something on TV as a kid and say, ‘That’s what you are gonna do,’” he says excitedly. Stall was finally able to make his dream a reality. “All the years I spent, the miles, the broken bones you put into it, it is hard to even put into words what it means to finally make it,” Stall says. He continues to work hard and compete in rodeos, like Hamel’s, to hopefully qualify for the NFR a third time. “If you work hard, your dream can come true,” he says.

Hamel Rodeo & Bull Ridin’ Bonanza
July 5–8 (rain or shine)