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Behind the scenes

Volunteers help Dayton Rodeo run smoothly

September 4, 2012
By EMILIE NELSON ( , Messenger News

DAYTON - More than 10,000 people were estimated to have passed through the gates of the Dayton rodeo this Labor Day weekend, but bringing that many people into a town of less than 1,000 residents takes a lot of teamwork and volunteerism to run smoothly.

"You can't really put a number on the amount of volunteers it takes to make this happen every year," said John Gallentine, a member of the Dayton Rodeo Committee. "But I know it's probably a few hundred people."

Gallentine said the rodeo celebration committee itself is made up of 12 volunteers - six representatives from the Dayton Wranglers Saddle Club and six representatives from the Community Club.

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Joelle Lizer, of Harcourt, sells programs at the 75th Annual Dayton Rodeo Monday afternoon. Lizer is one of more than 100 volunteers who helped keep the rodeo running smoothly over the weekend.

"But it takes everyone chipping in a little to help make the show happen," he said.

In addition to volunteers who plan the event, it takes volunteers from Dayton and the surrounding communities to get sponsorships, prepare the arena, recruit vendors, take tickets, work security, sell souvenirs, monitor the gates, work security and provide emergency services.

Leonard Anderson, of Dayton, is one of those volunteers. Even after undergoing surgery on his leg Friday, he still volunteered to monitor the north gate of the arena Monday afternoon, and didn't mind that a little rain was falling.

"That's what makes a good rodeo," Anderson said. "You've got to have a little mud."

Anderson has been involved with the rodeo for many years, spending 30 years as an event chairman.

"Today I'm just watching the gate, making sure everyone has a wristband," said Anderson. "I help out every year. I was chairman for 30 years, so I suppose I might have a little pull in what I get to do."

Anderson's granddaughter, Lillie Longhorn, of Pilot Mound, was assisting him in his duties for the day.

"I'm just making sure everyone has a wristband," she said.

Longhorn has been part of the rodeo her entire life.

"I've been helping for four years, but I know I've been here all 13 years," she said.

Joelle Lizer, of Harcourt, had her sales pitch down as she volunteered to sell souvenir programs at the event.

"They have everyone's names in them and lots of pretty pictures," she'd say as spectators entered the arena.

Lizer said she enjoys coming out the the rodeo every year, but had a little extra encouragement to help out this year from her mother, who also volunteers at the rodeo.

"My mom works in the ticket booth," said Lizer. "It's nice, I'll get into the rodeo for free by helping out. And it's fun, you get to see lots of new faces, and it's cool to see everyone experience the rodeo."

For Elly Simpson, of Boxholm, working in the ticket booth became a family gathering as her granddaughter, Emma Clausen and daughter Emily Clausen, also handled admissions and her husband, Eddie Simpson, worked the gate.

"I enjoy it," said Simpson. "You get to see a lot of people and hear their comments on the rodeo. It's fun just being among all of these people."



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