Wisconsin River Pro Rodeo comes to Merrill this weekend
Real cowboys and cowgirls show us how it’s done
TINA L. SCOTT
The Merrill Festival Grounds will be the site for some barrel racing, calf roping, bull riding fun this weekend, as the Lincoln County Rodeo Association welcomes the Wisconsin River Pro Rodeo (WRPR) to town. Shows at 7:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and a Sunday show at 1:00 p.m. will include all the events rodeo goers have come to expect and love, including steer wrestling, bronc riding, and more. Friday night’s show is Military Appreciation Night, and the Lincoln County Rodeo Association will donate $1 from each ticket purchased at the gate toward the Never Forgotten Honor Flight.
Food and merchandise vendors will open starting on Friday afternoon.
On Saturday, the 12th annual Antique Stock Tractor Pull starts with weigh-ins at 9:00 a.m. and pulling at 10:00 a.m. Everyone is welcome to attend, and admission for the Tractor Pull is free. Weight classes run from 2,800 lbs. up to 8,000 lbs.; only two pulling classes of antique farm and semi stock class. Full concessions available, so carry-ins are not permitted.
Saturday is also dubbed “Tough Enough to Wear Pink Day” in honor of breast cancer awareness. Come wearing pink or purchase “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” clothing and accessories on-site and help support breast cancer awareness, education, treatment, and research. All proceeds from the sale of merchandise go to the Marshfield Clinic and stay in North Central Wisconsin.
A Rodeo Dance will follow both the Friday and Saturday night shows, with live country music by Jerry Schmitt and his 100 Miles band, who have performed nationally and opened for such country greats as the Oak Ridge Boys, Joe Diffie, Lorrie Morgan, Merle Haggard, Lee Brice, and others.
Sunday is deemed Family Fun Day. The 1:00 p.m. rodeo show will include coronation of the 2021 Rodeo Queen, the first 100 kids to come through the gate for Sunday’s performance will receive a free cowboy hat on their way into the stands, and kids can participate in the Boot Scramble and the Candy Toss. And who doesn’t love a rodeo clown? He’ll be making appearances throughout the weekend, as well. Beer will also be served in the grandstand on Sunday.
“The Wisconsin River Pro Rodeo has become a community staple and household name rich in character for many years, as 2021 will be our 32nd year,” said Theresa Grund, Marketing Coordinator for the WPRR. “We kick off the summer season.”
In years past, the Rodeo has drawn more than 7,000 people to the Merrill Festival Grounds over the course of the three days, to shop the vendors, grab some rodeo grub, have a beer or two, kick up their heels at the dance, and, of course, to watch professional cowboys and cowgirls put on a great show as they compete to win. Grund said its great to see familiar faces, as well as new people coming out for the first time. “Our event offers something for all ages to enjoy for a three-day weekend of action packed professional rodeo,” she said. “Many people are talking about the rodeo long before June when the event takes place each year, looking forward to it.”
Board Member George Henrich said, ““I like to make people aware that this is a Professional Sport also, like other professional sports you see. This is what the PRCA represents: the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.”
“These men and women travel to events such as ours all across the country working in their professional sport, Henrich said. “So the performances that you see at the Wisconsin River Pro Rodeo are those of professional athletes in the sport of rodeo.”
If you’ve been feeling cooped up from COVID, this weekend will be a great opportunity to get out and have some family fun.
Rodeo tickets are available online at: wrpr.org or you can purchase tickets at the Merrill Chamber of Commerce, Tomahawk Chamber of Commerce, or Brickner’s Park City. Advance tickets are $14, tickets at the gate are $17, and kids age 5 and under are free. Gates for the shows open at 5:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday.