North Platte -When the latch opens on the gate for the annual Buffalo Bill Rodeo this weekend, the rookies will be looking for their share of the pie, alongside the veterans.
Several Nebraska cowboys who are in their rookie year or the first couple years of their pro rodeo competition are on the contestant list for the rodeo.
Elwood steer wrestler Reed Kraeger doesn’t rodeo full time, but figures he competes at about 95 rodeos a year, counting pros and regional associations.
The Elwood man has been a steer wrestler since his high school days and is back to high school, this time as an ag teacher and FFA advisor at Elwood High School.
He competed in high school rodeo and collegiately for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, earning reserve steer wrestling honors at the 2017 College National Finals and reserve average champion at the 2018 Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo, held in Minot, N.D.
As a teacher, he began Elwood High’s FFA program from scratch, and in two years, has taken FFA students to a top ten finish at state in both the natural resources and livestock judging competitions. With the help of a local family of dairy farmers, the Elwood High FFA team competed in dairy judging at the FFA National competition in October of 2018.
Kraeger, who wrestled his first steer on June 12 and his second one on June 15, loves competing in North Platte. “It’s such a huge western culture there,” he said. “The stands are full, and it’s the (second) biggest rodeo in the state, so it’s a pretty cool one to go to.” Kraeger is married with a daughter and a second child, due in July.
Among the 414 contestants on the list, 25 states are represented.
The rodeo begins at 8 pm Saturday, June 15.
Tickets for the rodeo can be purchased at the NebraskalandDays office, online at NebraskalandDays.com, and at the gate. For more information, visit the website or call the office at 308.532.7939.