A record-breaking week at the rodeo
More than $375,000 in prize money was on the line at the 2019 St. Paul Rodeo, and the cowboys and cowgirls in attendance broke a record and took home a variety of crowns.
Nineteen-year-old Stetson Wright, a young rodeo phenomenon from Milford, Utah, won the overall title after he placed second in the saddle bronc and bull riding events.
St. Paul Rodeo general manager Cindy Schonholtz said this year's rodeo was a resounding success, pointing to the quality of competitors and livestock in the arena.
"As the largest added money rodeo over the Fourth of July, we always attract the top competitors," she said. "We did feel like it's important to have livestock, as well, that matches the level of the competitors.
"We felt like our livestock contractors really did a good job at giving those guys opportunities to show their stuff."
Trenten Montero won the bareback riding competition by scoring 87 points on a horse named Onion Ring. It was Montero's second ride on the horse and the biggest win of his rodeo career.
A pair of co-champions emerged in steer wrestling: Riley Duvall and Blake Mindemann – both from Oklahoma. The strong-armed duo had a total of 8.8 seconds on two head to tie for the lead and split the top prize.
Twenty-year-old Boudreaux Campbell took home the bull-riding crown with a 90.5-point ride on a feisty bull named Tequila.
Wright scored 87 points in that event to finish second, and Campbell was only able to win after judges awarded him a re-ride.
His first ride scored just 77 points and would've earned him some money, but nothing is sweeter than the first place prize.
In the saddle bronc, Cort Scheer set an arena record with an 89-point ride on Kool Toddy – his fourth ride on a horse that he has won money on every time.
It was Scheer's fourth ride since he broke his ribs in a previous competition a few months back. Wright's second-place ride in the event notched 86.5 points.
Rounding out the victors, a duo of Erich Rogers and Paden Bray won the team roping competition with 10.3 seconds on two head, Jake Pratt won tie-down roping in 18.5 seconds on two head, and Salem native Amberleigh Moore won the barrel racing competition in 17.29 seconds.
Wright's overall victory comes after he won the bull riding competition in St. Paul last year as an 18 year old.
Schonholtz said Wright comes from an elite rodeo family and is already making a name for himself on the rodeo stage across the country.
Schonholtz also noted that the rodeo brought in record crowds this year in addition to having record competition in the arena. She said it brings a smile to her face knowing that the organizers of the rodeo got what they aimed for.
"I think the overall feeling here in St. Paul is that we met our goals," she said. "They were to have a lot of people here, having a good time, enjoying an old-fashioned Fourth of July with their families – and I think that definitely happened."
Plenty of rodeo competitors will be back in 2020 to defend their titles, and next year will be a special one for the rodeo and for St. Paul. It's the 85th anniversary of the rodeo.
Tickets go on sale Dec. 13, according to Schonholtz.
This year couldn't have happened without a massive team of community members and organizers, all of whom put on a "tremendous show" for the fans from far and wide who flocked to St. Paul in 2019.
For a small town of just over 400 to put on a rodeo of this magnitude, Schonholtz said, is nothing short of incredible.
"We worked well as a team – the community, the boosters, Marion County Sheriff's Office, volunteers, everybody," she said. "We worked together to make sure that all of the guests who came here really felt like they were coming home to the St. Paul Rodeo to have a great time.
"When I went to the Tack Room the last night, the only word I could come up with was joy."