Call of the Wild

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Kris Gray

I feel blessed to be able to combine my love of photgraphy with my love of hockey. Raised in a family that avidly followed the sports of Pro Wrestling, Roller Derby, Nascar and the Chicago Bears.



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This Cowboy tries to hang on tight for his wild ride on a Bucking Bronco.



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Dusty the Rodeo Clown goes up in smoke as his sharp shooting skills backfire, resulting in his pants catching on fire.


This past Saturday August 14Th, the Big Hat Rodeo rode into Belvidere, IL and set up their performance arena at the Boone County Fair. Bucking Broncos, Bull Riding, Steer Roping and Barrel Racing were a few of the events that were seen by fans packing the grandstand seats for two shows that day. The Big Hat Rodeo is based in Hebron, IL and their ranch for the stock is located in Lebanon, MO. Three generations of the Calzavara family have been providing rodeo entertainment for over 40 years for a 8 state area here in the Midwest. They also are one of the largest contractors of rodeo stock in the International Pro Rodeo Association, providing rodeo stock for the last 52 years.

Saturday's shows were scheduled for 4 & 8pm, with the later show being the headline entertainment for the busy Saturday night fair crowd. Because of the large amount of rain the stateline area had received on Friday, the Saturday afternoon show was delayed while the crews took extra care to get the arena ready for the show. The crew layed down a large thick layer of dirt and then set up the steel fencing for the arena & holding pens for the animals. Throughout the show, the stock was quickly rotated in and out of the different pens as each type of animal was needed.

The job of keeping the restless fans entertained in between events fell to Dusty, the Rodeo Clown. He told corny jokes and performed ill fated tricks that kept the audience laughing. His skills at rocket building and sharp shooting left the kids giggling and the adults groaning. The Rodeo Clown serves the duo purpose of comic relief and heroic protection for the Bull Riders.   

Here are pictures from the Saturday afternoon show for you to enjoy.





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