Reed City Rodeo hosts first competition of summer

REED CITY — There’s little up for debate after a barrel racer completes her run or when a bull rider lands in the dirt.

Was she faster than the rest of the riders? Did she leave all the barrels standing? Did he stay on for eight seconds? Was his hand raised above his head throughout the ride?

Rodeo is an objective sport, leaving little open to interpretation, and that’s what Jenna Erbes loves about it.

“There’s no other sport like this,” said Erbes, 28, of Hawkins. “It’s just between you and your animal.”

Erbes competed in barrel racing with her sister, Jade Erbes, during the weekend at the Reed City Rodeo. The sisters have been riding horses their entire lives and running barrels just as long, and they say the adrenaline rush keeps them coming back.

Martin Suk, a 20-year-old bull rider, feels the same way.

“It’s hard to cheat when it’s man versus animal,” Suk said. “I’ve never been into basketball or football or anything like that. I played soccer a little, but my real heart’s in bull riding.”

Suk, who traveled from Martin, about 20 miles north of Kalamazoo, to compete in the Reed City Rodeo, loves the sport so much even serious injury can’t keep him away from the ring.

In 2010, Suk competed in the rodeo at the Mecosta County Agricultural Free Fair. That night, his arm got hung up in his bull rope and he couldn’t get free from the bull once he was bucked off its back. The accident broke his arm in four places. But he continues to compete around the state, hoping to make a career out of bull riding.

“I’m just chasing my dreams, doing what I love. (I want to) ride bulls, have fun and live life,” he said.

Jade Seiber, 18, also sees a future career in bull riding and the “cowboy lifestyle.”

Seiber came to Reed City this week from Lone Oak, Texas, traveling with his boss for a horse sale in the area. When he heard there was a chance to ride bulls, he decided pretty literally to throw his hat into the ring.

“I started riding when I was little and just kept on competing, riding whenever I could,” he said. “I love the adrenaline rush and the money you can make riding bulls. I’ve already made at least over $1,000.”

Reed City Rodeo organizer Lonnie Clementshaw said he brought the rodeo to Reed City because of he wants to keep the rodeo tradition alive.

“It’s a real competitive sport, but it’s one that’s dying out a bit,” he said. “We gotta keep it going and bring it back. We do a lot with the little kids here and everyone appreciates that. We have a good time.”

Clementshaw has a 10-year history with other rodeos in the area, but began his own two years ago. This year’s summer rodeo program is a buckle series. Competitors who ride and place in events throughout the season will earn points based on their performances. At the end of the season, belt buckles will be awarded to those who earned the most points in their category.

About 400 people, including spectators and competitors, showed up to the rodeo on Saturday, Clementshaw said. On Sunday, there were about 150 people.

That’s a good enough crowd to keep the event going throughout the summer, he said.

Additional rodeo dates are May 18 and 19; June 15 and 16; Sept. 14 and 15; and Oct. 12 and 13. Each weekend’s events are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday, all featuring bull riding, team roping, barrel racing and mutton busting, among other activities. All activities are held at Clementshaw’s ranch, located at 4406 230th Ave. in Reed City.

Concessions from Up In Smoke, of Evart, will be available for purchase. Admission to each event is $10.

Competitors are welcome to practice at the ranch before rodeo weekends. Bull riding practices are held at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays and roping practices are held at 6 p.m. on Fridays.

For more information, visit facebook.com/ReedCityRodeo.