Hamel gears up for 33rd Hamel Rodeo


A cowboy uses his entire body weight to bring down a steer at last year’s Hamel Rodeo. (Sun Press file photo by Bill Nord)
A cowboy uses his entire body weight to bring down a steer at last year’s Hamel Rodeo. (Sun Press file photo by Bill Nord)

Volunteers from five Hamel community groups are gearing up for the 33rd annual Hamel Rodeo, back with performances July 11 to 14 at Corcoran Lions Park, located at County Roads 101 and 10 in Corcoran.

The proper name for the event is the Hamel Rodeo and Bull Ridin’ Bonanza, so called because the rodeo offers a bigger payout to bull riders in order to attract more of them.

But whether you call it the “rodeo” or the “rodeo and bull ridin’ bonanza,” it puts the Hamel area of Medina on the map.

For Hamel Postmaster Judy Hutchins, who grew up next door to where the present post office building stands, it unifies the community. She said, “People get so excited when they talk about it. There are so many people involved in it, it brings the community together and it’s a great thing to see that.”

Hutchins’ family left Hamel when she was seven, but she still considers Hamel as home, and has attended the rodeo many times. Her favorite part? “I like the bull riding, and the parade. It’s fun to see all the cowboys,” she said.

For Tom Gregor, who is rodeo co-chair and a resident of Hamel, the rodeo is all about making sure fans have fun. About 17,500 people attend the five performances each year, and Gregor and the rodeo committee and volunteers work to make it memorable. “We love it when our crowds are entertained, and we know that’s why they come back, to have fun for a few hours and enjoy themselves,” Gregor said.

Each year, the rodeo hires a different clown and specialty act for entertainment. This year, Gizmo McCracken of Wheaton, Mo., will be clown and barrelman, and Jerry Wayne Olson and his golden palomino, Justin Boots, will be specialty act.

“Gizmo clowned our rodeo five years ago, and this will be Jerry Wayne’s second time to Hamel. I think people will really enjoy Jerry Wayne’s horsemanship and Gizmo’s brand of comedy,” Gregor said.

Jerry Wayne Olson exhibits superb horsemanship skills by using voice and visual cues to command his palomino, with no rider, bridle or saddle.

The rodeo is a fundraiser for five community organizations: the Hamel Volunteer Fire Department, the Hamel Athletic Club, the Heinzen-Ditter Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, the Hamel Lions, and the John Pohlker American Legion Post.  After rodeo bills are paid, funds raised are split evenly amongst the organizations. In the last 32 years, the rodeo has given back $1.1 million to the community.

And whether you like the bull riding, the cowboys, the parade, or the clown, entertainment is always part of the Hamel Rodeo. “I love it when fans leave, satisfied that they had a good time and ready to come back for more,” Gregor said.

This year’s Hamel Rodeo is July 11 to 14, with nightly performances taking place rain or shine at 7:30 p.m. and a 1 p.m. Saturday matinee. All five performances will include bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, ladies barrel racing and the bull ridin’ bonanza. Four hundred professional cowboys and cowgirls will participate.

Thursday will be Tough Enough to Wear Pink night with partial proceeds given to breast cancer research.

Kids will have chances for pony rides from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on all four days. Family Day Saturday, July 13, will feature a 1 p.m. matinee and stick horse races and calf scramble for kids 10 and under.

The annual parade through downtown Hamel will be Sunday, July 14 at 2 p.m. Grand Marshals from the Hamel Athletic Club will lead the parade along Hamel Road.

The Hamel Lions flea market will be open on Sunday morning at the Medina Entertainment Center, 500 Highway 55. MEC also will host a Sunday brunch. Dancing under the stars to live music at Inn Kahoots in Hamel will follow each night of rodeo. Admission to dances will be free with the purchase of a rodeo button.

For more information, visit HamelRodeo.org or call 763-478-6611. Advance tickets are available at reduced prices on line at hamelrodeo.org and at the Farmers State Bank of Hamel and Pleasant Hills Saddle Shops.