By Shawn Nowlin email@example.com
On January 4, when Roanoke County resident Robert Jackson asked his nine-year-old son what he wanted to do over the weekend, the first thing the fourth grader said was to attend the Stampede Championship Rodeo at the Salem Civic Center over the weekend. Since 1969, the annual event has been a local tradition, making it the Civic Center’s longest-running family show.
When the two arrived on Friday evening to purchase their tickets, the first thing they noticed were the long waiting lines. “I knew the event would have a good turnout, but it was even more people than I anticipated. We had a great time and took plenty of pictures to appreciate the memory,” Jackson said.
Event organizers were confident that Friday and Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. show and Sunday’s 2:30 p.m. show would attract a sizeable crowd. Each spectacle lasted for approximately two hours and featured 250 cowboys and cowgirls from all over the nation bull riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, barrel racing and much more.
Tickets for the 54th Salem Stampede Championship Rodeo ranged from $20 to $30, with all two of the three shows selling out. Last year’s event was canceled because of COVID.
When asked to explain the concept of the Stampede Championship Rodeo, Director of Public and Media Relations Kevin DeBusk said, “To create a family-oriented event that you can take all ages to while spotlighting the western way of life through a professional sport.”
He added, “After being absent for a year, you always wonder how a community will respond and we were so humbled to see the response this year. Not only did we see large crowds on Friday and Sunday, but to see the building sell out on Saturday and listen to how the audience responded throughout the night was amazing.”
Award-winning rodeo clown Mike Wentworth, one of the five finalists for the 2021 Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA) Clown of the Year, kept the audience engaged with his quick wit and stage presence. Camille Anderson, eight, told her parents after the show that she enjoyed Clown Mike just as much as the riders.
Anderson’s parents, Tyrese and Shawnte, said they used the rodeo as a base to have a conversation with their daughter about work ethic and commitment. “People often see the finished product but not the work that goes into making it happen. I told Camille that before the bright lights, before the fan adulation, before the non-stop action, all of the riders had to spend countless hours working on their craft,” Shawnte said.
Fun was experienced by everyone, which was precisely what event organizers had hoped for.
“Since the inception of the rodeo, we’ve been blessed to partner with the Salem Civic Center and their outstanding staff. But what truly has made this event so successful over the years is both the building and rodeo company have similar mindsets,” DeBusk said.