MSU Rodeo Club’s Spartan Stampede celebrates 50th anniversary

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The MSU Rodeo Club was created 50 years ago to bring the American sport of rodeo to mid-Michigan.

“It’s so much fun, it’s better than Christmas,” said Torrie Yanz, an alumni member.

The Rodeo doesn’t come to Michigan too often.

“It’s the best weekend of the year, it’s my most exhausting weekend of the year but definitely my favorite,” Yanz said.

But when it does, it’s a big scene.

“Its exciting to hear everyone’s roar and everyone’s so excited to see the show,” said Khalilah Smith, 2018 Miss Michigan State Rodeo Queen.

It has a signature smell, too.

“If I had a dollar for every time a kid entered those doors and goes ‘it smells like animal,’ I’d probably be a millionaire,” Yanz said.

“It’s the best smell in the world, I love it,” said Claire Gaugherty, another Rodeo Club alumni member.

The MSU Rodeo Club puts on this show every winter, at the MSU Pavilion on campus. It’s the Spartan Stampede.

“There were probably 500 animals here over the weekend,” Yanz said.

Yanz was a member of the club when she was a student. IT became so much a part of her that she has to come back every year.

“In college the best times of my life were being a part of this rodeo club,” Yanz said.

The MSU Rodeo Club has been running the Spartan Stampede for 50 years now, and they’ve already won best indoor rodeo show 6 times. But that’s not why the alumni come back year after year. They come back to see the people again; it’s like their 2nd family.

“It’s like a reunion coming back here,” said Gaugherty, who graduated in 2018. “It’s a big reunion because you know everybody over the years. There’s so many people in rodeo but it’s also a small world so you get to know everyone.”

In this club, it’s all about the connection. Connection with the people.

“It’s really special just because it is a family we’ve been working at this for several months and so much sweat and tears have gone into this rodeo,” Smith said.

And of course, connection with the animals.

“They’re huge animals but you get the right one and they’re just so sweet,” Gaugherty said.

“He’s been used to eating all winter so this is his first time back under a saddle this weekend,” Smith said, when referring to her horse Blue.

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