by RUTH NICOLAUS
Dick Squire has watched every single night of the Hamel Rodeo — all 32 years of it. The unique thing is that he’s watched it from behind a camera lens.
Squire, of Mendota Heights, didn’t know anything about the sport, had never even been to a rodeo, till he and his family visited friends in Red Lodge, Mont. in 1980. He was photographing the friends’ sons, who were skiers, and they invited them for a stay in the mountains. The rodeo was going on, so they decided to take it in. In the parking lot, a cowboy was riding his horse, warming it up. Squire had his then three-year-old son with him, and the cowboy asked, “Would he like a ride?” When the boy got a ride, that was it for Squire, and he was hooked on the sport.
But he was in his late thirties, and it was too late to learn to be a cowboy.
So how else could he be involved? With a camera! Squire learned to be a rodeo photographer, and through the help and advice of others, learned how to take rodeo action shots. “Different people would say, ‘this is the shot you need,’ and they’d critique me,” he remembered.
He took the advice well, and has been a professional rodeo photographer for more than 30 years. He became a Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association member in 1988, and has been selected to work the International Finals Rodeo six times, and before he slowed down, used to work 35 rodeos a year.
Squire’s rodeo photography office is a “museum” of rodeo for the Midwest. He estimates he has hundreds of thousands of rodeo pictures, in negatives from 1981 to 2004, and digitally from then on. His website has every rodeo photograph he’s taken since 2004.
Rodeo photography was never his full time job. He owns an office furniture and commercial carpeting business. But he loved the weekends and going to rodeos. “I enjoy the people,” he said.
And he’ll be at this year’s Hamel Rodeo, capturing rodeo cowboys and cowgirls, documenting the history of the sport, one click at a time. Squire’s pictures can be seen at the Hamel Rodeo website (HamelRodeo.org) and on his website (squirephotos.com.)
The Hamel Rodeo will be July 11 to 14 at Corcoran Lions Park. Times are at 7:30 p.m. each night, July 11 to 14 with a 1 p.m. matinee on July 13. Corcoran Lions Park is located at County Roads 101 and 10. Tickets are available at HamelRodeo.org and at the gate. Advance sale adult reserved tickets are $15 and at the gate are $16. Advance sale children’s tickets are $8 and at the gate are $10. General admission tickets are $14 for adults and $8 for children. For more information, visit the website at HamelRodeo.org or call 763-478-6611.
This year’s event also includes dances at Inn Kahoots following the rodeos July 11 to 14. The 1 p.m. matinee Saturday, July 13, is designated as Family Day, with all advance tickets on sale for $8 and $9 at the gate. Sunday, July 14 kicks off with the Hamel Lions Flea Market at daylight at the Medina Entertainment Center, 500 Highway 55. MEC will offer a rodeo brunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday and the Hamel Rodeo Parade will follow at 2 p.m., on Hamel Road in Hamel. The final rodeo performance will be at 7:30 p.m., Sunday.
CUTLINE FOR HAMEL RODEO PHOTOGRAPHER
Dick Squire has captured nearly every ride and run during the 32 year existence of the Hamel Rodeo in Corcoran. The Mendota Heights man was introduced to rodeo in 1980 and took up rodeo photography as a hobby. (Photo courtesy of John Hamilton)