Anticipation was high at the fairgrounds on the evenings of June 26 and June 27 as the Kootenai River Rodeo got underway, canopied by cloud-studded skies. The mellow summer evening air breezed by in fluid motion among the lively crowd of rodeo lovers who filled the fairground stands with positive energy and the "yee-haw" spirit that Boundary County is famous for.
"We've got a great rodeo on tap and great weather here in Boundary County," boomed the inimitable voice of Ken Robertson, Boundary County's homegrown rodeo announcer.
The Grand Entry flashed with American, Canadian, Selkirk Saddle Club, Pro-West Rodeo and Get-A-Grip flags carried by well-known local horsemen and Kootenai River Rodeo royalty of the past and the present and visiting royalty. Amanda Blankenship delighted the audience with beautiful renditions of both "Oh Canada" and the American National Anthem.
"We're ready to rodeo here in Bonners Ferry. Doesn't it make you proud to be in America?" Ken asked the audience who responded with rousing applause.
Using stock provided by the Get-A-Grip stock contractor Adam Westman, this Pro-West sanctioned rodeo, sponsored by the Selkirk Saddle Club, was officiated by Pro-West judges. Country music provided a fitting backdrop for the evening's festivities as the competition heated up for each event.
Oohs and aahs as well as liberal applause came from the audience as each contestant did his or her best in the exciting events that pitted human against animals and time.
Punctuated by comments such as, "That doesn't help," "That didn't feel very good," and "That didn't go according to plan," Ken kept the audience laughing and in good humor as the broncs and bulls seemed to dominate the competition overseen by the crescent moon as evening dropped slowly over the mighty Selkirks to the west.
Always an audience favorite, the bull riding was especially competitive this year.
"These bulls are quick, they are stout and they are so hard to ride, but if you can stay on one, you are going to the pay window," Ken joked with his distinctive laugh. "I can't say enough about these Get-A-Grip bulls. The cowboys are giving it all they've got and are coming up short."
"The Bonners Ferry boys are doing good," commented Etta Mae Schnuerle who attended the rodeo. Vi Sims won the 50/50 raffle sponsored by the Bonners Ferry Chamber of Commerce. What a great 80th birthday surprise to a great lady.
The rodeo concluded on Saturday evening with a family dance. Selkirk Saddle Club Secretary Kristy Kellogg said, "Many young people were there and seemed to be enjoying themselves. There were teenagers down to itty-bitty kids doing line dancing. This year, as a committee, we made it a point to have alcohol only in a specified area so that more people could enjoy a family dance. There were probably about 50 people at the dance and it was a great way for the rodeo committee to unwind."
Kristy had high praise for the Kootenai River Rodeo as a whole.
"I think it's a successful rodeo when no one gets hurt," she commented. "The local exhibition bull riders were really great. Those PBR bulls are really tough. It was nice to have a rodeo that wasn't rained out or cooked out. It was awesome to see our local cowboys do really well on Friday night. We like it when the hometown boys and girls succeed."
The top three overall winners in each rodeo event are listed below:
Bareback Riding: Cameron Craig, Jeff Cobb, Justin King
Tie Down Roping: Brock Palmer, Will Casey, Brian Hill
Breakaway Roping: Jennifer Casey, Mamie Marts, Coti Fuller
Saddle Bronc Riding: Derk Robinson, Cameron Craig, Buck Sprague
Steer Wrestling: JW Crenshaw, Seth Shelton, Jacob Stacy
Barrel Racing: Katy Bremner, Cheyenne Allan, Pam Capper
Local Barrel Racers: Farryn Balch, Sammy Pitts, Ireta Remsburg
Bull Riding: Colby Reilly
Team Roping: Tyler Bowman and Bill Justus, Gene Stellflug and Bob Stellflug, Tim Fuller and Jason Fisher