Several area residents competed in the 28th Annual Great Northern Classic Rodeo at Head of the Lakes Fairgrounds in Superior over Labor Day weekend.
There were veteran participants as well as newbies racing their horses around 55-gallon pink drums.
The barrel race is set in a three-leaf clover pattern and contestants are timed. The participants, ages 6 and up, and came from Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Tonya Olesiak, 31, of Cromwell, has been riding horses since she was in middle school. Her horse, Grant Town Blues, also known as Blues, won a race at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn., before he retired. Her husband previously trained horses at Canterbury Park, including hers at one time.
“He was so crazy on the track that everyone was scared of him,” Olesiak said. “I have had him now, retired, for about seven or eight years. He is quirky, but coming around. Except he was scared of the pink barrels.”
She is originally from South Dakota, but has made her home in Cromwell for 13 years.
Lydia Kiehl, 10, has been competing in barrel racing since she was 7 years old. She began riding horses at the tender age of 2.
Lydia competed with Reba in the barrel race for the last time Sunday, Sept. 1. The 20-year-old horse will be passed down to Lydia’s 5-year-old sister, Anna. Their sister, Laraya, used Reba for 4-H this year while Lydia trained in a new horse.
“Reba is a family horse,” Andrea explained. “We have five horses and Lydia and her sister Laraya do all of the care and chores for them.”
“Lydia lives and breathes horses,” her mother, Andrea Kiehl, said. “It is her passion."
The rodeo usually draws about 6,000-7,000 people each year. The rodeo is a nonprofit and is run with the help of many volunteers, from board members, crowd control, selling tickets and much more.
The money is donated to different organizations each year, with the exception of cancer research and North Country Ride in Esko. Other organizations include local 4-H groups as well as veterans groups. The event is sponsored by area businesses.