The very first Spooner Rodeo was described as an “Outstanding Success” on the front page of the Spooner Advocate, July 15, 1954. And it must have been, because this weekend the 66th annual Spooner Rodeo is coming to town, bigger, better, and stronger than ever.

But it is always nice to look back at what was. Now, more than half a century later, we present this account of that first rodeo, as it appeared back then …

JULY 15, 1954– The first Heart O’ North Rodeo was written into the record books last weekend as an outstanding success, and it is estimated that approximately 7,500 people witnessed the two day event. Cowboys from throughout the west split prize money totaling over $2,650, of which $1,800 was posted by the Chamber of Commerce and the rest by the entry fees put up by the contestants themselves.

Although rain early Saturday morning threatened to wipe out the first day’s program, the skies cleared so that the Rodeo Parade could go on. The parade was delayed one hour and many units which had planned to come canceled out under the threat of rain. However the sun won out and thousands lined the highway as the parade moved southward.

Mounted units, including rodeo contestants and the Spooner Saddle Club, were prominent, giving the parade plenty of “rodeo color.” The bands, drum corps and the colorful floats of communities from far and near added to the success of the occasion.

After lunch, the first rodeo performance got underway and the contestants more than lived up to advance billing. Top-flight cowboys were on hand, and the bucking horses and bulls gave them many a rough ride during the afternoon. Calf-roping and bulldogging added their share of thrills, and the trick riders and rope-spinning artists, trained oxen and the rodeo clowns provided additional entertainment.

Sunday’s events proved equally thrilling, and a capacity crowd was on hand for the final performance of the rodeo, the only RCA-approved rodeo in Wisconsin. The Rodeo Cowboys Association, which sanctioned the contests here, is the organization which governs all of the major rodeos in the United States, and points won here will go toward deciding the world champion cowboys this year.

In fact, it is believed that Jack Buschbom, of Cassville, Wis., the world’s champ bareback rider in 1949, again moved into the top position in the current standings as a result of his sweep in the bareback and saddle bronc events in Spooner. Buschbom won both events both days, and as a result also won the average, giving him a total take of $420.

Buschbom met his match, however, when he tried to stay aboard the famous “Brown Bomber,” owned by Tom Barr of Rice Lake. Buschbom stayed on about five seconds Saturday and eight Sunday before being tossed by the bone-jarring Bomber.

Bob Barnes, of Cherokee, Iowa, was the rodeo producer, and his bucking stock in the contests was outstanding.

Two local riders competed in a special event, Allan Schiebel making fine rides both days, and Herb Powers staying aboard “Smokey,” owned by Rodeo Chairman W.S. Feeney.

Chamber of Commerce President Gilbert Durand said he didn’t know “where to start in thanking the many who had helped make the two-day event a success. “We owe a deep debt of gratitude he said to the many, many volunteers who worked so long and so faithfully in many different ways to put this big event over. It was a tremendous undertaking and the fine co-operation we received has made it a red-letter event in the history of the Spooner Chamber of Commerce.”

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