For 90 years, Sidney also packs 'em in -
Published Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 12:30 am / Updated at 11:54 pm
Championship rodeo
For 90 years, Sidney also packs 'em in

In a region with more than its share of rodeos, Sidney, Iowa, draws on a 90-year history to distinguish its annual event.

Consider this: Sidney's Championship Rodeo, which wrapped up Saturday night, was expected to draw more than 25,000 over the course of five days.

The population of Fremont County, where Sidney is located, is 7,441, according to the latest census numbers. The rodeo grounds on the west side of town can seat 7,500 people in their concrete-and-steel covered grandstands.

“A lot of areas don't have the size of the complex that we have and the tradition that we have in Sidney,” said Dave Magel, 57, a member of the rodeo committee.

The rodeo began in 1923 as entertainment for an old soldiers reunion. The Sidney American Legion post assumed sponsorship and made it an annual event.

Over the years, the rodeo became a destination.

“There wasn't a whole lot of entertainment around here in this area,” Magel said. “When you mention the Sidney Rodeo, people say 30 to 40 years ago, that's where their family took their vacation.”

The 2013 Miss Sidney Rodeo is Hannah Hilsabeck of Winterset, Iowa. Performers included John Payne, known as the “One-Arm Bandit,” and the Two County Dusters equestrian drill team. Musical acts such as the Cowboy Up! Band performed.

While attendance is down from the peak years of the 1960s and early 1970s, when 50,000 to 55,000 fans attended, Sidney can still pack in a crowd.

“Some venues are great big and you sit a long way away from the action. In Sidney, Iowa, you are up close,” said Trevor Whipple, 35, president of the rodeo board.

“If you are in the very front row, you are two or three feet away,” Whipple said. “You might get a little sand in your hair or in your shirt.”

The Sidney Rodeo, like the one in Burwell, is a professional rodeo that draws cowboys who work a circuit that includes Dodge City, Kan., and Carson, Iowa.

Sidney, which bills itself as “'Rodeo Town USA,” is nearly 50 miles southeast of Omaha.

Contact the writer: Andrew J. Nelson    |   402-444-1310    |  

Andrew writes about virtually everything – crime, features, legislative news and small-town controversy – happening in Iowa.

Sioux City riverboat casino prepares to close, still hoping to be saved
Omaha high schoolers to help canvass for Heartland 2050
Mizzou alumni aim to attract veterinary students to Henry Doorly Zoo
Grant ensures that Sioux City can start building children's museum
Party looks to 'nudge' women into public office in Iowa
For birthday, Brownell-Talbot student opts to give, not get
Sole big donor to Beau McCoy says he expects nothing in return
Two taken to hospital after fire at Benson home
Grace: Pipe organ concert a tribute to couple's enduring love
Omaha-area jails and ERs new front line in battling mental illness
Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins might await his sentence in prison
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
Civil rights hearing to consider voting policies in Midwest
Firefighters battle brush fire near Fontenelle Forest
17 senators in Nebraska Legislature hit their (term) limits
It's a pursuit of pastel at Spring Lake Park's Easter egg hunt
Financial picture improving for city-owned Mid-America Center
No injuries after fire at midtown's old Mercer Mansion
29-year-old Omahan arrested for 22nd time in Lincoln
Police: Slaying of woman in Ralston apartment likely over drugs
Explosion near 29th, Woolworth damages vehicles
Omaha police arrest man, 19, accused in March shooting
Earth gets its day in the sun at Elmwood Park
Beau McCoy strikes Obama doll in TV ad; Democrats are not happy
Keystone XL pipeline backers blast 'political expediency' as foes hail ruling to delay decision
< >
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Dickson’s Week in Review, April 13-19
On Twitter some guy tweeted that the spring game isn’t taken as seriously as a regular-season contest. What was your first clue? When the head coach entered waving a cat aloft?
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
The main speaker at today's Ivy Day celebration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a college president who grew up roping calves and earned her Ph.D. at the prestigious Oxford University in England.
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »