Hamel Rodeo: more than $1 million for area organizations

When six Hamel community leaders came together in 1981 to put on a rodeo, they had no idea it would grow into what it is today.

The Hamel Rodeo, in its 32nd year of existence, has raised more than $1 million for six local not-for-profit organizations in the Hamel area, and it puts an unincorporated town, Hamel, on the map.

Each year, after rodeo bills are paid, the profits are split evenly between six organizations: the Hamel Volunteer Fire Department, the Hamel Athletic Club, the I-94 West Chamber of Commerce, the Heinzen-Ditter VFW, the Hamel Lions, and the John Pohlker American Legion Post.

For them, the money has paid for extras that each group needs. For the Fire Department, monies have bought a variety of items: a self-contained breathing apparatus, and thermal imaging cameras, among other things. "We’ve used the money for different projects," said Chief Brandon Guest.

With the I-94 Chamber of Commerce, the rodeo’s fundraising helps them fund local activities. Money is spent on "programming, community projects, and gives us the ability to support all the community groups within our service area," said Kathleen Poate, retired director of the Chamber. "When organizations like the Rogers (Minn.) Lions do something, we’re able to help them."

The Dorweiler brothers, Shorty and Julie, were asked for their expertise to help with the rodeo back in 1981 and they jumped at the chance. "Shorty and I got the idea that we should have something that had a little more exposure, regionally," Julie said. They backed the rodeo financially its first year. "We guaranteed, its first year, if it lost money, we’d cover the losses." There were no losses that first year, and never have been since then.

The six organizations each have two voting delegates to serve on the rodeo committee, and each group helps with the manpower needed to put on an event of its size. The fire department handles the parking and traffic, and the chamber takes care of ticket sales and assembles the program.

The rodeo takes place July 5 to 8 at the Corcoran Lions Park, north of Hwy. 55 on County Road 10 and Hwy. 101.

Julie Dorweiler, an original board member still serving, says that even though the community strongly supports it, the rodeo has never stopped striving to improve. "You have to, at a minimum, be as good as you were last year, but hopefully better each year. We know that people will travel 300 miles to go to a good pro rodeo, and put it on their calendar for every year. They know, when they come to Hamel, they’re going to see good stock and good contestants."

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online at HamelRodeo.org.

For more information, visit the website or call 763-478-6611. Ticket prices are $14 for advance adult reserved and $8 for kids. At the gate, reserved tickets are $16 for adults and $10 for kids. General admission tickets are $13 for adults and $8 for kids.