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Carmi Kiwanians “Cowboy Up” with Local Bull Rider Steve Wells

Steve Wells, a 1990 CWCHS graduate entertained the Carmi Kiwanis Club Thursday, August 8, discussing his days as a professional bull rider. His rodeo “career” began by chance. He related this story of how he was camping and trail riding at 34 Ranch near Herod, IL on a July 4 weekend. It so happened they were hosting a local rodeo and since he was a rodeo fan and an adventurous 21-year-old man, he offered his hand at one of the bronc riding events. He was told he couldn’t just walk up and enter, but was told if one of the bronc riders who was entered didn’t show he could take their spot. As fate would have it, a bull rider didn’t show so I was asked if I would like to enter the bull riding event. Well, a very short ride that day spurred an interest in a sport that he could only describe as an addiction.

For the next eight years he chased the next thrill, the next adrenaline rush and the next fix for his new addiction. He traveled all across the Midwest, Southeast, and Southwestern United States entering 2-5 rodeos every week or weekend making 100+ rodeos a year. He estimated he had ridden over 1500 bulls in his career and wouldn’t give up one scar or broken bone earned in that time for anything else. Not that he would go back and do it again, he lamented.

Rodeo cowboys are fierce competitors, physically strong, and usually young. Wells said he learned many great lessons from his days as a bull rider—lessons of faith, the power of positive thinking, perseverance, hard work, sportsmanship, dedication and humility.

As a rodeo performer the feeling of accomplishment and pride is indescribable. However, the life of a circuit cowboy comes with perils of injuries, living on the road, and family commitments and is often short lived.

By 2001, Wells was now married with one small child and decided his life had entered a new dimension. He ended his career as a Professional bull rider ranked third in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Great Lakes Circuit which included Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin. However, his rodeo involvement did not end with his retirement as a bull rider.

He now has three children who are involved in rodeoing. His son, Cooper, age 20 is a bullfighter; his daughter, Mattie, age 16 is a barrel racer; and his 11-year-old son, Wyatt, is a mini bull rider and a roper. It was pointed out the difference between a bull rider and a bullfighter is a bull rider rides the bull whereas a bullfighter distracts the bull from harming the bull rider as he disembarks from the bull.

Wells role in rodeoing has changed. He now puts the knowledge he acquired over the years to work as a rodeo judge and watch his kids pursue their gold buckle dreams. In addition to that, he has developed a lucrative career as a professional farrier (shoeing horses) with roughly 250 regular customers ranging from Paducah, KY to Vincennes, IN. He and his wife, Brooke, and three children live outside Omaha, IL. For his horse shoeing business, he can be reached at 1-618-599-4474.

In club business, Shiela Wallace, representing First Mid Bank & Trust, was a guest of Eric Rahlfs. Shanna Northcott, soon to be the Carmi Chamber of Commerce Executive Director as well as a soon to be Kiwanian, was also a guest. Pete Fulkerson was the 50/50 winner but did not draw the lucky ball. Cards were sent to Kiwanian, Don Dixon, absent because of illness, and to the family of Bill Harmon, long-time Kiwanian.