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SUPERIOR - The sport of rodeo truly is one of America’s first
"I like telling people I really didn't have a choice. It's
pretty much all I’ve ever done so this is why I just keep doing it. It's just
born in me I think," said Eli Van Buren, a bull-rider from Backus,
"I grew up doing it. My dad was a coach in western
heritage and it's just been a part of my life ever since," said Kayleen
Erickson, the 2012 Minnesota Rodeo Association Queen.
It started as a way for cowboys to hone their skills in the American
west, but has since developed into an entertainment spectacle, bringing cowboys
and cowgirls from around the country to see whose number one.
"Once you win once you're stuck forever. It's like the
mafia. Once you're in can't get out," said Van Buren.
The Great Northern Classic Rodeo is celebrating its 21st
year in the Northland. Not only is it a ground for friendly competition, the
rodeo is also a non–profit organization, where much of the winnings go towards
Van Buren said, "You know they've got that tough enough
to wear pink competition and raise a whole bunch of money for breast cancer
awareness every year and it's not just a certain association, all associations
do it from smaller ones to pro levels."
The sport is as dangerous as they come. Where riders risk
life and limb putting on a show for its fans, so it's no wonder that while each
competitor is out to win, they're all in this together.
"When I climb on a bronco or I’m fighting a bull or
whatever I’m doing, they're going to be right there to help me because they
want to see me be as successful as I can on that animal and I’m going to do the
same for them," said Jesse Larson, vice president of the Great Northern
At the end of the day, it's a sport where one wrong move can
make the difference between taking home the money or going home empty handed.
"If you screw up it's your fault. You can't blame it on
anybody else but yourself and you've just have to strive to do better the next
time," said Van Buren.
Larson said, "If you do win, you get a check and you
get to go home with a little jingle in your pocket and move onto the next one
and don't have to borrow some money from your buddy because he'll sure loan it
to you to keep you going."