Get ready to rodeo: 35 years in Lincoln County

An exciting scene from the 2022 Wisconsin River Pro Rodeo, just a teaser of things to come to the Merrill Festival Grounds this weekend. Tina L. Scott photo.


The Lincoln County Rodeo Association (LCRA) will celebrate their 35th season of bringing professional rodeo to our area this weekend, with the three-day Wisconsin River Pro Rodeo (WRPR) starting Friday, June 7, 2024, and going through Sunday, June 8.
Described as “a weekend of action-packed western family fun,” the event will welcome professional cowboys and cowgirls from around the U.S. – and a few professionals with local roots, as well – to showcase their talents and compete in roping, riding, and bucking events that aren’t for the faint of heart. From barrel racing to team roping, tie down roping, breakaway roping, and steer wrestling, to bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, and bull riding, the cowboys and cowgirls competing will focus on speed, form, times, and just hanging on, with many events culminating in a rider’s launch into the air and a dirt landing, all for attendees’ entertainment and cash and prizes on the rodeo circuit. In WRPR tradition, Gary Van Der Geest Memorial Saddles will also be awarded to the All Around Cowboy and Champion Barrel Racer.
But it’s not all just contestants, horses, steers, and bulls kicking up dust in the arena at the Merrill Festival Grounds at the three weekend performances. Family-friendly rodeo events throughout the weekend include rodeo clown entertainment, a boot scramble for kids ages 4-12, a nickel dig for kids age 12 and under, Sunday’s cowboy hat giveaway for the first 100 kids accompanied by adults, and candy toss events for kids of all ages. There are also fun women’s and men’s events with prizes,
Friday night’s rodeo kicks off with a tribute honoring all the branches of the U.S. armed forces, veterans, and those currently serving; Saturday night’s rodeo event is Cancer Awareness Night where pink is the color of the evening; and Sunday afternoon’s rodeo is considered family day.
And let’s not forget the great food on the Merrill Festival Grounds starting Friday and live music by the Jerry Schmitt Band from Stratford (no cover charge) both Friday and Saturday evenings. Plus on-site vendors, a free stock tractor pull on Saturday, and the queen coronation on Sunday.
The WRPR is run entirely by volunteers, and the LCRA estimates the annual event draws more than 14,000 people to the Merrill Festival Grounds during the three-day rodeo weekend.
Tickets to rodeo performances are available online at and advance tickets are available at the Merrill and Tomahawk Chambers of Commerce and Brickner’s Park City in Merrill. [Note: Kids advance tickets for the Sunday performance are only available online.] Tickets are also available at the gate.
For more information and a complete event schedule, go to

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