Spooner, WI (NNCNOW.com) It's commonly referred to as the Heart of the North Rodeo, as the biggest and oldest in Wisconsin, this year the Spooner Rodeo celebrated 60 years.
"If you want the people to come, then you have to invite them," said Richard Fankhauser, rodeo chairman.
For the cowboys competing it's just another day at the office.
"This is how I pay the bills," said Ty Kirkland, a saddle bronc rider. "If you ain't winning, then you can't pay the bills so you better win or you're going to have to get a real job."
It's more than just the money that brings the riders back each year.
"The music's loud and you just get that adrenaline pumping and you say, this is awesome to be here," said Jade Blackwell, a saddle bronc rider.
"It's hard to find that feeling anywhere else so you just keep doing it and doing it," said Tyrell Nelson, a bareback rider. "You drive all night just to do it one more time."
It's that "drive" that makes their job unique.
"You'll see so many states," said Blackwell. "You'll go out to the West Coast and the East Coast. It's awesome to be able to see everything."
"Not everybody gets to do what they love," said Kirkland. "I guess I was gifted. I get to do what I love and go to different places and see a lot of things."
With more than 300 cowboys from 27 states and two countries, the Spooner rodeo continues to rope in the best of the best.
"They've got good horses to get on, and I get along with them really well, and it's not too far from home," Blackwell.
"I like the atmosphere up here. It's a lot better than home, a lot cooler and a lot of great people. It's just something different," said Kirkland.
A different experience that Nelson says he wouldn't trade for anything.
"I've sat in the stands and watched the rodeo before, and I thought it was awesome. It's a lot better standing back here in the chutes then sitting in the stands."
But it's the fans in the stands that gives the rodeo heart. Rankhauser says they're already working on getting the next group of fans.
"We've always said if we can get them coming when they're five, they'll be coming when they're 55."
And hopefully one day, they'll be the next generation of cowboys, traveling the country to live their dreams.
Posted by Sarah Wheeler