Every summer for nearly four decades, one event has brought a unique blend of competitive sport, family entertainment, and community connection to the area: the Hamel Rodeo & Bull Ridin’ Bonanza.
NATIONAL RODEO EVENT
From the very beginning, Shorty Dorweiler has played a significant role in the rodeo’s success. In 1980, the Hamel Lions, then with only a handful of members, asked Shorty and his brother Julius to help organize an event that would bring attention to the town and benefit local non-profit organizations. Both Shorty and Julie are well-connected in the professional rodeo industry. Shorty became involved in rodeo at the age of 11 and competed nationally for many years. With the Dorweiler brothers’ guidance, five community service organizations combined to form the Hamel Rodeo and what would become a popular local tradition and a highly-regarded national rodeo event.
An opportunity to rent the Corcoran Lions Park, with electricity and lighting, allowed the rodeo to include nighttime performances. The event expanded from two performances to five, including Saturday afternoon’s Family Day with many hands-on activities for the kids. Contestant prize money has increased from five or six thousand dollars to well over $100,000, drawing top national talent. The performances feature bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, ladies barrel racing, and the Bull Ridin’ Bonanza, as well as the popular specialty act by the One Arm Bandit & Company.
COMMUNITY EVENT RUN BY VOLUNTEERS
Not everything about the Hamel Rodeo has changed over the years, however. Volunteers still plan and operate the entire event. The organization has no paid staff. A Friday or Saturday night performance calls for more than 200 volunteers onsite; the event requires 24/7 security as well. One hundred percent of net proceeds go directly to the five non-profits: the Hamel Lions Club, the Hamel Volunteer Fire Department, the Heinzen-Ditter VFW, the John Pohlker American Legion, and the Lord of Life Military Family Support Ministry. These organizations determine distribution of funds, all of which stays in the community. To date, the Hamel Rodeo has raised more than 1.9 million dollars. The event draws participants, vendors, and spectators from across the state, nation, and even other countries.
Another thing that hasn’t changed from those early days? The tireless efforts of Shorty Dorweiler, who works year-round to ensure a well-run event. “We want to entertain people,” Dorweiler said, “show them a good time, and call attention to the area.”
Family Day is an important piece of the rodeo’s success. All tickets for the Saturday afternoon Family Day Matinee cost $10 and include free pony rides, stick horse races, and a calf scramble.
“People come up to us and say they’ve been coming since they were six years old and they still have a ribbon from the calf scramble,” Dorweiler said. “There’s a lot that goes into the extra things we add for the families, and we like to see them having fun. We only have those types of events that one day, so we can really focus on the kids. It’s hard work, but it’s rewarding.”
THE DORWEILER LEGACY
Dorweiler’s family came to Hamel in 1919, when his grandfather and his grandfather’s brother opened Farmers State Bank of Hamel. Currently CEO of the bank, Dorweiler got involved in 1962 when he was still in high school. He served 25 years on the Hamel Volunteer Fire Department. In 2012, Dorweiler received the Legacy of Community Banking Award from the Independent Bankers of Minnesota, an honor that recognizes 50 years of service to banking, and in 2013 was presented with the Lifetime Excellence Award from the I-94 West Chamber of Commerce.
In his spare time, Dorweiler enjoys hunting and taking pack trips to wilderness areas, especially in the mountains. “I don’t use a compass or GPS,” Dorweiler said. “I’d rather get lost and find my way out. You figure out how to get something done. Your mind works differently because you realize you’re going to have to deal with it yourself. That thought process is rewarding and helps when you come back to the real world. I need to stop and think about what’s happening. Am I willing to take the risk, and do I have a plan? I use that every day.”
That philosophy has served Dorweiler well in the wilderness, at Farmers State Bank of Hamel, and with the Hamel Rodeo.
The 38th Annual Hamel Rodeo & Bull Ridin’ Bonanza runs Thursday, July 5 through Sunday, July 8 at the Corcoran Lions Park. For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.hamelrodeo.org. Organizations, businesses, or individuals interested in learning more about involvement or volunteer opportunities should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PRIME COMMUNITY PUBLICATIONS
This piece was originally published in the 2018 Northwest Suburban Community Resource & Residents’ Guide, recently direct-mailed to homes and businesses in Corcoran, Hamel, Greenfield, Loretto, Hanover, Medina, and Rockford. Prime Advertising & Design has more than two decades’ experience producing community publications for many area cities, regions, and Chambers of Commerce. Find the guides at city halls, community centers, libraries, and local businesses.
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