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Seated behind a silver Casio keyboard, she keeps a watchful eye on the rodeo competition from a white covered platform just outside one corner of the arena.
As soon as there is a break in the action, a few upbeat notes of organ music fill the air.
This has been Carol Thiele’s role at the annual Clearwater Rodeo for 35 years. Thiele said she took over the job in 1984 after only living in Clearwater for one year.
“The chamber just asked me if I’d do it, and I thought that would be a good way to help out,” she said.
Thiele said someone probably noticed her playing organ at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Clearwater or playing accompaniment for music students at Clearwater Public School. She believes a lady from Wolbach was hired to play the previous years, except in 1983 when Celine Filsinger of Clearwater stepped in. Thiele said she contacted the Wolbach woman for advice before she started.
“I called her and asked her to tell me what she did because I’d never been to a rodeo before,” she said with a laugh. “We didn’t have rodeos where I came from.”
Thiele grew up in Coleridge, learning to play piano there when she was in first grade. She started playing organ for her church there when she entered high school after a woman from the church showed her how to run the pedals.
At the rodeo, Thiele said she plays an electronic keyboard.
“It’s a piano setting, but it’s got some electronic in it, so it has an organ sound,” she said.
Thiele said she watches the arena to play music when the time is right, watching “the guy with the flag and the gate.”
She plays a variety of country songs after the mutton bustin’ finishes up, leading into the rodeo competition. After that, Thiele said she just plays “little diddies.”
“It’s just chording,” she said. “It’s really not hard.”
It’s especially easy for someone who used to play piano by ear as a child.
“That’s all I did and my music teacher broke me of that because to teach somebody piano that plays by ear, is very difficult,” Thiele said. “So she kind of broke me of that.”
Longtime rodeo chairman Gene Snodgrass said he really appreciates Thiele’s contribution to the atmosphere at the rodeo.
“It’s pretty neat and the people seem to really like it,” Snodgrass said. “The announcer this year said this was the first rodeo he’d been at where an organ was played.”
The 52nd annual Clearwater Rodeo finished up on Sunday night, and Thiele said it gets better each year.
“They just keep enhancing everything — the whole arena — everything just keeps getting bigger and better,” she said.
Thiele said her family often gets together for rodeo weekend which adds to the fun.
She and her husband, Joe, have three children — Steven and Holly Thiele, Reid and Barrett; Jenna and Jeremy Kaup of Stuart and Kate Thiele of Aurora.
Thiele said she doesn’t know how long she’ll keep playing music for the rodeo, but she’s not planning to stop anytime soon.
“I just really enjoy it,” she said.
With helmets on and a grip of thick wool, kids were ready for a 'wild and woolly' ride at the Clearwater Rodeo's Mutton Bustin' events during three nights of rodeo action last weekend.
Kids ages 3-7 were placed on the sheep as they bolted out of the chutes across the arena. The contestants were a little bit dirtier and a little bit richer when their ride came to an end. Each was given a free drink and $1 for their efforts.
Thank you to Verdigre Stockyards for providing the sheep for this event!
With nearly 300 contestants over three days, the competition heated up to match the weekend's temperatures at the 52nd Annual Clearwater Rodeo, June 28-30.
Despite the heat, faithful rodeo fans continued to pack the stands, supporting their favorite cowboys and cowgirls.
Mutton Bustin kicked off the rodeo action each night as the kids held on for a wild and woolly ride. After the kids cleared the arena on Friday night, Ashleigh Nelson of Tilden was crowned the 2019 Clearwater Rodeo Queen.
Hollenback Rodeo, Co. once again served as the stock contractor. Sugar Ray Quinn was the announcer and Shawn "Boom Boom" Thompson livened things up between events as the rodeo clown. Bullfighters were Matt Riha and Rowdy Moon.
The Clearwater Chamber of Commerce, with Gene Snodgrass as rodeo chairman, hosted the annual rodeo.
Miss Clearwater Rodeo 2019 will be crowned during opening night of Clearwater’s Big Rodeo on Friday.
Contestants will demonstrate horsemanship skills before a panel of judges as well as participate in an interview with rodeo officials on Friday.
Prior to the start of Friday evening’s rodeo action, Macy Zentner, Miss Clearwater Rodeo 2018, will crown her successor.
The new queen will assist with duties throughout the weekend, including carrying flags and gathering calves and steers from the arena during rodeo events.
Contestants for Miss Clearwater Rodeo 2019 include Ashleigh Nelsen, Daityn Chase, Josey Booth, Morgan Erhardt and Taylor Bolling. The following are their biographies.
Taylor Bolling is the 17-year-old daughter of Nathan and Cassie Bolling of rural Clearwater.
Growing up in Clearwater gave me the opportunity to attend the rodeo every year. I would be honored to be able to represent my hometown as Miss Clearwater Rodeo.
I have always had a love for horses and was excited when I got my first one seven years ago. Since then, I have been an active member in 4-H I have qualified for the State 4-H Horse Show the past two years and will be competing in English, western, barrels and poles this year. I have been a member of the O’Neill Boots and Saddle Club and in 2017 was honored to be chosen as their queen.
In my free time, I am either riding my horses, working on the farm or painting.
I will be graduating from Clearwater Public School in 2020 and plan on attending college to study Vet Technology.
I am a junior at Clearwater Public School and am involved in track, speech, SkillsUSA and National Honor Society. For many years, I have danced for Studio 15 Dance Academy. I am an active member in 4-H and FFA. I currently hold the role of President in my FFA chapter. I am also a member of the Nebraska 4D Barrel Racing Association and the Mid-States Rodeo Association, which I run barrels in both. I am currently a rider and captain of the Antelope County Drill Team.
I would like to be Miss Clearwater Rodeo because it would be an honor to represent my hometown while promoting the sport of rodeo.
In my future, I plan to enlist into the National Guard and also study Veterinary Science.
Hello! My name is Ashleigh Nelson and I am the 16-year-old daughter of Gary and Dawn Nelson of rural Tilden, Nebraska. I will be entering my Junior year of high school at Elkhorn Valley Schools this fall. I would like to be the Clearwater Rodeo Queen because I want to not only represent a great rodeo program, but also be a positive role model for the younger participants. The opportunity to show them how to represent one of the best rodeos in the area is something I strive for. I have a very deep love for the sport of rodeo and all that it entails, and I especially enjoy coming to the Clearwater Rodeo every year. The Clearwater Rodeo has been one of the highlights of my summer for as long as I can remember. One of my best memories of the Clearwater Rodeo is having the opportunity to not only meet June Holeman, who was such an amazing asset to the sport of rodeo, but to be photographed with her during an interview. Each year, I look forward to watching girls on fast horses and brave men riding bulls, and I have always especially loved the queen competition, seeing the beautiful girls on the talented horses, carrying the American Flag, I’m so proud to stand for. I’ve always dreamed of being that girl someday, to be the one helping with Mutton Busting and inspiring the next generation of youth to become active in rodeo and equestrian events.
I am a member of the Boots, Bits and Buckles 4H Club of Tilden and am a member of the Antelope County 4H Council, as well as a 4H Camp Counselor for the Regional 4H Camp that is hosted annually. I serve as the 2019-2020 Parliamentarian for the Elkhorn Valley FFA, which started its first year at EV in 2018-2019, for which I held the role of Reporter. As the Chapter closed its first year at Elkhorn Valley Schools, I was excited to be a member of the Senior Horse Evaluations Team which won the State Title in May, securing our spot at Nationals in October. I personally received Reserve Champion Individual Horse Evaluation honors at the State FFA Horse Evaluation Event also. I have been riding horses for as long as I can remember and started showing around age 8. Currently, my nine-year-old reining mare, RU Missin’ Chex and I are involved in the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA), the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and enjoy attending local 4H and open horse shows. I recently competed at the McCook District 4H horse show where I won Sr. Grand Champion in reining and earned a spot at the Nebraska State 4H Horse Show in Grand Island, NE, where I will also compete in Trail, Halter, Ranch Riding, Advanced Western Horsemanship and Advanced Western Pleasure. In 2018, we were Nebraska State 4H Qualifiers in Reining and were ranked in the Top 5 of Ranch Riding. We were also named the Central Plains Reining Horse Association Green Rider of the Year for 2018 and took home CPRHA Reserve Champion Ladies Honors as well in Reining and were ranked in the Top 10 in Youth. We qualified for affiliate championships in 2018 and participated in youth at the national championships in OKC in December. We have also been invited to attend the AQHA Youth World Show this August for reining for the second year in a row. We are foregoing this opportunity, as it conflicts with our local Antelope County Fair and I really don’t want to miss our local fair and the annual memories made there. In 2016 I was honored to be named the Boots & Saddle Club Queen in O’Neill. I absolutely loved that experience and the amazing interaction with the local youth. I have also been a part of the Antelope County Equestrian Drill team for 5 and been team captain for the last 2 years. In addition to the above, I’m active in volunteering in our community, and I am a local philanthropist. I enjoy helping and inspiring others. In 2012 I was named the Northeast Nebraska Youth Philanthropist of the Year for my work in volunteering and fundraising, with donations of over $2,000 going to St. Jude for money I raised in my “Strike a Match for the kids at St. Jude” fundraiser, where I donated my $24 Antelope County Fair Premium money check I received for showing my cat, Princess and asked for matching donations. I also raised over $30,000 in hay for the Double R Horse Rescue in Kearney as my 10 th Birthday Wish to help feed horses being dumped during the drought that summer. For several years I also raised funds and donated stuffed animals for elderly in nursing homes around the holidays to help them feel loved and appreciated. Any day spent spreading smiles is a day well spent.
My future plans are to continue to make memories and competing in horse shows with my mare, to graduate from Elkhorn Valley High School in 2021 and then attend Montana State University and enroll into their Farrier School. After completing the program, I plan to return back to Nebraska and establish a mobile farrier business.
I started riding before I could walk, but unfortunately my life took a turn when I was 10 years old and we had to sell all of our horses. I knew someday I would get back into it and fulfill my dream of joining the rodeo world. About four years later we got two horses, Kit and Fancy, but they were not rode for five years. Fancy had an attitude problem and Kit had a bucking problem, I’m sure you can see my predicament. After years of us learning together, getting help from the people around us, and having a lot of patience I finally got both of them where I wanted them to be. I decided to start queening last year with my first competition being Miss Days of ‘56 for the rodeo in Ponca, NE. With Days of ‘56 rodeo being PRCA sanctioned and competing against girls that have rode their entire lives, I went into the competition with low confidence in myself. As all my friends, family, and mentors kept cheering me on I ended the day with 2nd runner-up, leaving the competition with more confidence and a love for queening! After that I competed for Miss Cedar County Rodeo Queen in Hartington, NE and left the competion as 1st runner up!
My biggest reason for wanting to be Miss Clearwater Rodeo 2019 is to show everyone that looks up to the queen at the rodeo that they can start from the bottom and work their way up to their dreams with hard work, family and friends, and determination. I am a leader and like to set high moral standards for those who look up to me and I cannot think of a better way of showing this, than through rodeo queen. After graduating from Ponca Public Schools I plan to join the military and eventually go to college for a law enforcement degree to become a cop or state trooper! I am hoping that this career will further my love for helping other people and being a strong leader.
My name is Josey Booth, I am 15 years old, and I’m from Neligh,Ne. I have worked at Booth Feedlots my whole life, which includes caring for cattle, pen, and equipment maintenance. I have ridden my horse Little Blue since I was three years old. I have competed at the Boots and Saddle Club rodeos in O’Neill since I was eight years old. With Little Blue I competed in barrels, poles, breakaway, trail, working cow horse, and goat tying. We are currently going to 4H State Horse show in barrels, poles, working cow horse, and trail. In 2017 I personally bought my own yearling named Rico. I am doing most of Rico’s training myself with the help of a professional trainer. I am a sophomore at Neligh-Oakdale Public School. In school I am an active member of FFA, One-Act, Speech, and Volleyball. I am also a member of Antelope County 4H, AQHA, and the 4D Barrel Racing Association. I spend most of my time either working on the feedlot, riding horses, or playing volleyball.
Since Morgan Wallen’s latest single hit #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, fans have been putting on their “Whiskey Glasses.”
Wallen, a 24-year-old singer from Tennessee, is set to perform on Main Street after Clearwater’s Big Rodeo on Saturday night.
Fans can expect “boondock bangers, amped-up anthems and sensitive, shade-tree poetry.”
Growing up, Wallen told the ACN that he began to perform for his local congregation at age three. While Wallen’s mom listened to Christian music and he preferred rap, his father leaned more toward hard rock.
“It’s not something you would expect - a Southern Baptist preacher who loves Bad Company - but I think that’s part of what makes him genuine,” Wallen said of his father. “He wasn’t the kind of preacher who was throwing judgment toward anybody. He just found a way that helped him and he wanted to help other people, and if he liked a little rock-and-roll, then so be it. I looked up to it all.”
After moving to Nashville in 2015 from Sneedville, Tenn, where he attended the same high school as country superstar Kenny Chesny, Wallen worked on honing his writing skills with legends like Craig Wiseman (“Live Like You Were Dying”) and Rodney Clawson (“Dirt”).
Wallen earned his first #1 as a songwriter with Jason Aldean’s PLATINUM-certified smash single, “You Make It Easy,” which he co-wrote with Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard and Jordan Schmidt.
Wallen’s breakout hit, “The Way I Talk,” takes a “drawling look at putting your money where your mouth is.”
His next hit, “Up Down,” features Florida Georgia Line and references “Holdin’ it down here in ‘B.F.E.’”
“Some people have asked me, ‘What is B.F.E.?’ and if you don’t know, you just don’t know,” Wallen said. “I love a good time, I love to drink a little bit, I love being with my friends and I love fishing. Life is hard enough already, so if you can find a song that takes you away from that for three or four minutes, it’s a blessing.”
“Up Down” co-writer HARDY will be opening for Wallen on Saturday night.
HARDY’s debut single, “Rednecker,” is currently closing in on the Top 30. HARDY’s songs are bold and proud with lyrics focused on “farms, in the backwoods and mostly in America’s heartland.”
“I love that lifestyle, and that’s what I want to talk about,” HARDY said. “People who still live in small towns, still love that and want to hear that. That’s why I’m who I am as an artist.”
HARDY is set to perform at 9 p.m. on Main Street Saturday with Wallen following.
The 2019 Clearwater Rodeo is set for June 28-30, with mutton bustin' starting 30 minutes before prior to the rodeo action each night.
Rodeo events will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Sunday nights and at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. The rodeo queen will be crowned on Friday night and the Morgan Wallen concert is scheduled on Main Street after the rodeo on Saturday night. The James Lee Band will open for Wallen and HARDY is set to perform at 9 p.m.
She didn’t have a political platform.
“I really just tried to form a connection with everyone on all the floors and tried to prove that I was actually a person, and not just some political figure,” Alyssa Moser of Clearwater said.
Moser was named the 2019 Cornhusker Girls State Governor in Lincoln last Wednesday afternoon.
“A good friend of mine came up with the slogan, ‘Don’t be a poser, vote for Moser!’ when I was struggling to come up with something,” she said.
There were eight Nationalist candidates for governor at Girls State. Moser won the primary to face Federalist party candidate Layla Omari of Lincoln North Star in a gubernatorial debate.
“I honestly can’t remember a lot of the debate questions, but the debate was where I was able to build my platform as someone who advocated for small rural communities and for agricultural producers,” she said.
Moser said because the majority of Girls State citizens were from small communities, she was able to earn a lot of their votes just by talking about her own experiences growing up on a farm near a small town.
“I had never debated before, so I was pretty nervous, but I actually kind of had fun debating,” she said.
In addition to being named governor at Girls State, Moser was also elected as one of two senators to represent Nebraska at Girls Nation in Washington, D.C. in July. The candidates nominated themselves.
“Each citizen wrote down two names on a slip of paper to vote for who they wanted to attend Girls Nation,” Moser said. “The top 10 interviewed, and four girls were selected from there: 2 senators and 2 alternates.”
She and Aanya Agarwal from Omaha were selected as the Nebraska senators for Girls Nation.
Moser, who will be a senior at O'Neill High School in the fall, is the daughter of Chris and Sandy Moser of Clearwater.