Fremont County, Iowa

Sidney Rodeo Memories
by Sherry Perkins

View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
Week of July 26, 2010

Iowa's Championship Rodeo in Sidney, Iowa, was the highlight of my great-grandmother's summer. After a busy summer season of gardening, canning, raising chickens and baby sitting grandchildren, the Rodeo became her get-away -- her escape from everyday, mundane chores and worries. She went every year and every day, if possible, from the Rodeo's beginning in the late 1920's until the year of her death in 1955. She loved the Rodeo and all the excitement of seeing the cowboys and the bull riding. Never did she find it boring because she met friends and neighbors, saw great entertainment, ate someone else's cooking and played BINGO!

For her, the best part of the whole rodeo scene happened on the Mid-Way where carnival vendors were playing deafening music and the bright lights beckoned. Somewhere near the middle of the throngs of people, the screaming, spinning Ferris wheel and the laughter of the children on the merry-go-round, there was a large tent with wood planks set up as tables and benches around the perimeter. The cry of "BINGO" could be heard loud and clear. Grandma gravitated towards this spot much as a moth to a flame. Yellowish lights around the roof of the tent kept the prizes displayed in the center sparking and twinkling.

She sat here for hours until Grandpa came to take her and her prizes back to their farm near Thurman, Iowa. Her thrill must surely have been the opportunity to shout "BINGO and then choose a pretty "carnival" dish. She obviously won many times over the years as her cupboards were full of dishes known as "carnival" glass. Today, some fifty years after Grandma died, these dishes are treasured by family members and will be passed on to her great-great-great granddaughters.

So every year when the Rodeo week rolls around, I can picture her scooting over on her bench to make room for me beside her and giving me a quarter to play along. I don't think I ever won anything but the sound of her laughter and the feel of her hugs linger today.

I've no doubt the Rodeo brings forth countless thoughts to many folks. My memory of my bingo playing great-Grandma is but one of the thousands out there. Such experiences are often housed in museums of brick and mortar as well as museums in our minds.

This summer, when we go to the Rodeo, we will be able to see the early construction of the new Rodeo Museum, which the Historical Society, Rodeo Board, Auxiliary, and many people who love the event, are so excited about.

This museum will allow us non-cowboys and cowgirls to visit our rodeo remembrances. It will honor all who have made Sidney the Rodeo Town it is. You can own a piece of history with your donation to this exciting project. Soon Rodeos of the past will be relived year 'round not just at Rodeo time  

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Page updated on May 10, 2017 by Karyn Techau